Apr 11 2018

AMD systems gain Spectre protection with latest Windows fixes

Enlarge / An AMD Ryzen. (credit: Fritzchens Fritz)

The latest Windows 10 fixes, released as part of yesterday's Patch Tuesday, enable protection against the Spectre variant 2 attacks on systems with AMD processors.

Earlier this year, attacks that exploit the processor's speculative execution were published with the names Meltdown and Spectre, prompting a reaction from hardware and software companies. AMD chips are immune to Meltdown but have some vulnerability to the two Spectre variants. Spectre variant 1 requires application-level fixes; variant 2 requires operating system-level alterations.

Both Intel and AMD have released microcode updates to alter their processor behavior to give operating systems the control necessary to protect against Spectre variant 2. Microsoft has been shipping the Intel microcode, along with the operating system changes necessary to use the microcode's new features, for several weeks now; with yesterday's patch, similar protections are now enabled on AMD machines.

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Apr 04 2018

Intel drops plans to develop Spectre microcode for ancient chips

Enlarge / A Sandy Bridge wafer. Sandy Bridge is the oldest chip family that's guaranteed to get Spectre variant 2 fixes. (credit: Intel)

Intel has scaled back its plans to produce microcode updates for some of its older processors to address the "Spectre variant 2" attack. Core 2 processors are no longer scheduled to receive updates, and, while some first generation Core products have microcode updates available already, others have had their update cancelled.

Earlier this year, attacks that exploit the processor's speculative execution were published with the names Meltdown and Spectre, prompting a reaction from hardware and software companies.

The Spectre attack has two variants, numbered version 1 and version 2. Spectre version 1 attacks will need software fixes, and the nature of these attacks means that they may always need software fixes. Version 2 is amenable to hardware and firmware fixes.

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Mar 15 2018

Intel outlines plans for Meltdown and Spectre fixes, microcode for older chips

Enlarge / Intel Ivy Bridge Xeon E7 v2 die shot. (credit: Fritzchens Fritz)

Shipping in the second half of this year, the next generation of Xeon Scalable Processors (codenamed Cascade Lake) will contain hardware fixes for the Meltdown attack and certain variants of the Spectre attack. So, too, will a range of processors using the same 8th generation Core branding that some processors are already using.

Earlier this year, attacks that exploit the processor's speculative execution were published with the names Meltdown and Spectre, prompting a reaction from hardware and software companies.

The Spectre attack has two variants, numbered version 1 and version 2. Spectre version 1 attacks will need software fixes, and the nature of these attacks means that they may always need software fixes. Applications that try to build sandboxes—locked-down environments used for running potentially hostile code, such as JavaScript in the browser—will need to be examined and updated to provide robust protection against Spectre version 1.

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Mar 01 2018

Intel’s latest set of Spectre microcode fixes is coming to a Windows update

Intel Skylake die shot. (credit: Intel)

Windows users running the latest version of Windows 10 on recent Intel processors will soon be receiving Intel's microcode updates to address the Spectre variant 2 attack.

Earlier this year, attacks that exploit the processor's speculative execution were published with the names Meltdown and Spectre, prompting a reaction from hardware and software companies. Intel released microcode updates for its processors to provide operating systems with greater control over certain aspects of this speculative execution; however, the company's initial releases were found to cause problems.

Intel has since fixed the microcode bugs, but until this point Microsoft has said that Windows users should turn to their system vendors to actually get the new microcode.

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