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For Meltdown/Spectre, Intel Says Microcode Updates Done, Silicon Fixes Coming

Intel is officially declaring that it's done with the massive effort to provide software updates to protect against Spectre and Meltdown for all the products it has released in the last five years.

The chip maker also says it has redesigned the processors being released later this year to offer additional protections.

"We have now released microcode updates for 100 percent of Intel products launched in the past five years that require protection against the side-channel method vulnerabilities discovered by Google," said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in a written statement Thursday.

The declaration would bring to a close a promise Krzanich made in a keynote at CES in the second week of January just after news broke that Intel and its OEM and software partners were working feverishly to fix the flaws, which represented a serious theoretical threat but did not seem to have been exploited in the wild.

At the time, Krzanich said Intel expected to issue fixes for 90 percent of its processors within a week and fixes for all of them by the end of January. However, complications arose involving bricked systems, server performance issues and reboot problems.

While Intel is done working on the microcode, that doesn't necessarily mean all systems can be patched yet. Because customers get the fixes through their OEMs rather than from Intel, it could still take time for some of Intel's OEMs to test and approve the patches on their supported systems.

At the same time, Intel redesigned forthcoming processors shipping later this year to address two of the three variants of the Spectre/Meltdown family identified by Google Project Zero's reporting.

"While Variant 1 will continue to be addressed via software mitigations, we are making changes to our hardware design to further address the other two. We have redesigned parts of the processor to introduce new levels of protection through partitioning that will protect against both Variants 2 and 3," Krzanich said Thursday. "These changes will begin with our next-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors (code-named Cascade Lake) as well as 8th Generation Intel Core processors expected to ship in the second half of 2018."

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 15, 2018 at 1:54 PM


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