Spectre- and Meltdown-hardened Intel CPUs will arrive later this year


As part of its earnings call yesterday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich shared some of the measures the company is taking to harden its chips against the Spectre and Meltdown attacks. Krzanich says that the company "is working to incorporate silicon-based changes to future products that will directly address the Spectre and Meltdown threats in hardware," and he promises that the first products with those mitigations "will begin appearing later this year."

It's important to note that Krzanich describes the company's work on Meltdown and Spectre in both software and hardware as "changes" and "mitigations," not "fixes." That's because similar, as-yet-undiscovered or as-yet-unexploited microarchitectural attacks could still arise in products as complicated as modern CPUs, as noted by one of the original publications regarding the Spectre attack. It's improbable that future Intel products could be made immune to such attacks in such a short time frame.

In the meantime, Intel is continuing to work with its partners to provide firmware and software updates for existing systems to mitigate Meltdown and Spectre, and it's set up a dedicated portal for affected users to keep track of the latest news regarding those efforts. Whether those fixes will extend to any of the oldest affected systems remains to be seen—I'm still waiting on firmware updates for some of the most recent systems in the TR labs as it stands—but we can hope.

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