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Science
16 Mar 2018

Intel redesigns 8th-gen chips to fight against security vulnerabilities

Intel finally fixes Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities

Intel has redesigned its upcoming 8th-generation processors to make them bullet-proof against severe security vulnerabilities that are collectively known as Meltdown and Spectre.

According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, the initial 8th-generation chips that have been re-engineered to be protected against the flaws are the Core and Xeon CPUs.

They should start shipping in the second half of 2018.

In context

Intel finally fixes Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities

Context

Meltdown and Spectre have been major bugs in Intel's processors

Meltdown and Spectre refer to a major bug in Intel's processors that requires an operating system patch and can't be fixed via a simpler firmware update.

It allows applications to spy inside protected kernel memory data, effectively letting hackers swipe data from third-party apps on devices using hardware from Intel, ARM, and AMD.

It even affects CPUs dating back to 1995.

How has Intel protected its chips from vulnerabilities?

To fix Spectre and Meltdown flaws, Intel has added a fresh layer of protection to its chips in the form of partitioning. Krzanich said, "Think of this partitioning as additional protective walls between applications and user privilege levels to create an obstacle for bad actors."

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Details

100% of vulnerable Intel products have been fixed

There are three variants of the security vulnerabilities, with Variant 1 and 2 being aspects of Spectre and Variant 3 being Meltdown.

The hardware fix that Intel has rolled out will stop attacks by Variant 2 and Variant 3 weaknesses. This comes in addition to the already issued software update that patches the Variant 1 vulnerability.

100% of vulnerable Intel products have been patched.

It's unclear if the patch will affect PC performance

Earlier, it was reported that patches for these bugs could slow down PC speeds by up to 30%. Not directly commenting on that, Krzanich said, "As we bring these products to market, ensuring that they deliver the performance improvements people expect from us is critical."

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