Intel CEO delivers open letter in wake of Meltdown, Spectre

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AMD HAS become the latest major player to release firmware updates to fix CPU issues caused by Spectre and Meltdown.

In it he promises transparency from the company and reiterates a previous promise that patches will be made available for the majority of processors by next week. To accelerate the security of the entire industry, we commit to publicly identify significant security vulnerabilities following rules of responsible disclosure and, further, we commit to working with the industry to share hardware innovations that will accelerate industry-level progress in dealing with side-channel attacks. In the document, Intel urges customers to delay additional deployment of these microcode updates and the company will provide frequent updates.

Intel Executive Vice President Navin Shenoy on Wednesday issued an update on the impact of the patches on performance, saying that eighth-generation Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake platforms would see less than a 6 percent performance decrease. "For those Intel customers who are worried about performance impacts, you should know that we will work on creative solutions with our industry partners to reduce those performance impacts wherever possible", said Shenoy. After initial speculation that only Intel CPUs were hit by the flaws, AMD has confirmed the same and all companies are offering patches.

Patches released for Broadwell and Haswell processors are causing both PCs and data centre systems to reboot, which should be seen as a problem. If the deficiencies are left unaddressed, they pose a risk of compromise to data stored across devices around the world.

Apple claims that performance of Macs, iPhones and iPads is largely unaffected by the patches, stating "our testing with public benchmarks has shown that the changes in the December 2017 updates resulted in no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS as measured by the GeekBench 4 benchmark, or in common Web browsing benchmarks".

While the Meltdown exploit largely affects Intel chips, it also impacts some ARM-based products used in smart and embedded devices.

The case is different for Windows Server, Microsoft's operating system for servers. So, out of an abundance of caution AMD will be making optional micro code updates available to further contain the threat. However, yesterday the chip maker admitted these updates were causing certain computers to unexpectedly reboot.

To date, there have been no known exploits of the security issue.

Performance in the 7th Generation Kaby Lake H processors is said to mirror the impact in performance seen in the 8th Generation processors.

All told, AMD is approaching the problem with a mix of OS patches and microcode updates.

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