January 24, 2019

Meltdown and Spectre patches not coming to older Chromebooks

13 January 2018, 06:04 | Dale Webster

Information Security is a Priority at AMD

Information Security is a Priority at AMD

The Spectre vulnerabilities are a bigger problem for AMD than the company previously believed. These firmware updates mitigate the Spectre flaw.

The company still claims to be in the clear on Spectre Variant 3.

Epic Games, publisher of online video game Fortnite, has been one of the first companies to blame the fix for "login issues" and "service instability". AMD Opteron, Athlon and AMD Turion X2 Ultra families were affected by the patch for found vulnerabilities.

The company also said Linux vendors are now distributing patches for AMD products. Not only does the flaw cause significant performance degradation and jump between different instances on the same CPU, fixing Variant 2 required changes to multiple layers of the software stack and significant industry-wide collaboration. The first variant of Spectre was being patched, and the company indicated zero risk of the second and third known variants. Vulnerability to Variant 2 has not been demonstrated on AMD processors to date. AMD plans to issue optional microcode updates for its current Ryzen and Epyc chips this week, and expects to have patches for previous-generation products "in the coming weeks". Intel says that end-users should continue applying updates recommended by their system and operating system providers.

"Microsoft is working with AMD to resolve this issue and should resume Windows OS security updates to this subset of AMD processors via Windows Update and WSUS by next week", the company added.

AMD also said it is working with both Microsoft and Linux vendors on future Spectre patches for AMD systems, as well as "engaging closely with the Linux community" on Retpoline, aka "return trampoline", which is a mitigation technique developed by Google for the branch target injection attacks.

Google said it started deploying patches for Meltdown and one variant of Spectre in September, and by December created a patch for Variant 2 of Spectre, which is more hard to fix without slowing down systems.

Papermaster's statement Thursday also provided an update on earlier Spectre patches for AMD processors.

This kind of slowdown is assumed to be an unavoidable downside to patching Spectre and Meltdown, but today we're learning that it may not have to be that way.

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