AMD backtracks on Spectre vulnerabilities, plans microcode updates

Allan Goodman
January 14, 2018

Applying the necessary patches to the CPU firmware is considered to be the most hard task in providing protection against Meltdown and Spectre, compared to the operating system and internet browser patches that have already been released.

Navin Shenoy, general manager of the company's data center group, also said reiterated what Intel CEO Brian Krzanich emphasized in his Security-First Pledge about Intel's commitment to transparency in reporting progress in handling the Google Project Zero exploits.

After Spectre and Meltdown were reported earlier this month, Intel officially accepted the existence of the flaws and since then many tech companies have tried their hand at issuing an effective meltdown and spectre patch.

Just after the turn of the year on 2 January researchers from Google revealed hardware vulnerabilities in the majority of CPUs in the market - and called these Meltdown and Spectre.

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Customers have complained to the company about a higher than usual level of system reboots following installation of the patches. "We have defined additional steps through a combination of processor microcode updates and OS patches that we will make available to AMD customers and partners to further mitigate the threat", AMD said. Specifically, these systems are running Intel Broadwell and Haswell CPUs for both client and data center.

There are two vulnerabilities attributed to Spectre, and while Nvidia has pushed out patches to plug one of the security holes, it's still working on updates to block off the second.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Intel is asking datacentre customers to delay installing patches because the patches have bugs of their own. The CPU firmware patches are also the most likely to slow down computer performance, but by exactly how much is still unclear. We are working quickly with these customers to understand, diagnose and address this reboot issue.

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