Intel has microcode updates for modern CPUs and fixed silicon for late 2018


Back in January, Intel's CEO Brian Krzanich wrote an open letter promising speedy Spectre and Meltdown patches. He later on remarked that the company's first products to "address the Spectre and Meltdown threats in hardware" would show up this year. Today, Krzanich authored a blog post that says the company has microcode updates ready for all of its products released in the past five years, and that CPUs with "hardware-based protection" for the security flaws will launch toward the end of 2018.

Those microcode updates include every one of the company's processors back to the launch of the Haswell family in 2013. It's worth noting that Intel's also cooking up microcode updates for CPUs as old as 2007's Conroe series. Unfortunately, not every system may have Intel's updated microcode available as a firmware update. Intel has a whole site dedicated to helping users deal with Meltdown and Spectre, and down the page a bit there's a list of manufacturers with links to their own pages about the flaws.

The upcoming chips with hardware-based protection against Meltdown and Spectre include the next generation of Xeon Scalable processors (code-named Cascade Lake) as well as another run of eighth-generation Core CPUs. In the blog post, Krzanich tacitly admits that the Spectre Variant 1 vulnerability won't be fixed by updated hardware and will "continue to be addressed via software mitigations." That's not really a surprise given the nature of the flaw, as it exploits fundamental concepts in modern microprocessor design. Intel doesn't say exactly what it's done to help mitigate Meltdown and Spectre in the upcoming CPUs, but Krzanich notes that the company "redesigned parts of the processor to introduce new levels of protection through partitioning."

Between the Spectre and Meltdown multi-vendor vulnerabilities and the claimed security issues in AMD's chipsets, it's reasonable to say that 2018's shaping up to be an interesting year indeed.

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