Given how widespread the Spectre and Meltdown issues are, it’s only a matter of time before processor manufacturers release new CPUs circumventing the vulnerabilities. Intel is hard at work on its new chips set to release this year, revealing some of the hardware changes it’s making to ensure that future processors don’t suffer the same fate.
Intel’s redesign of the new processors will enable the CPUs to mitigate Spectre Variant 2 and Variant 3 (Meltdown), however these specific changes won’t target Spectre Variant 1. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stated in a blog post that this is thanks to a new partitioning system that acts as a “protective wall” to separate privilege levels from processes.
Spectre Variant 1 will continue to be addressed in various software patches, with previous updates having been distributed by Microsoft through Windows 10. More effort is being placed in these software mitigations, with Microsoft offering a bug bounty program to make other companies aware of further attacks utilising the exploits.
The first to feature the redesigned hardware will be Intel’s Xeon processors, codenamed Cascade Lake, alongside more iterations on the company’s 8th generation CPUs. Both are expected to arrive in the second half of 2018.
“As we bring these new products to market, ensuring that they deliver the performance improvements people expect from us is critical.,” explains Krzanich. “Our goal is to offer not only the best performance, but also the best secure performance.”
Beyond this, Intel was reluctant to go into any technical details behind its redesigned build, but those with a processor built within the past five years will see a firmware update reach them in the coming months.
Intel concludes its blog by stating that this is a “long-term commitment,” and that its “work is not done” just yet. “Customer-first urgency, transparent and timely communications, and ongoing security assurance. This is our pledge and it’s what you can count on from me, and from all of Intel.”
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KitGuru Says: While this should have been rectified before the release of the 8th generation, it’s good to finally see Intel making progress on fixing such vital security flaws. Do you think owners of the latest 8th generation deserve some form of loyalty scheme to upgrade considering the reveal of the issues came just months after Coffee Lake’s release?