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Thursday, March 15, 2018
Intel to Bring Hardware-based Protection to Data Center and PC Processors


Intel is working at the hardware level to protect against Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities, with security fixes baked directly into the processor, ready for the next round of Xeon Scalable processors code named 'Cascade Lake', as well as 8th Generation Intel Core processors set to ship in the second half of 2018.

Intel has already released microcode updates for 100 percent of Intel products launched in the past five years (processors based on the Coffee Lake, Kaby Lake, Skylake, Broadwell, and Haswell microarchitectures) that require protection against the side-channel method vulnerabilities discovered by Google.

These patches consist of both software patches for operating systems (such as Windows and Linux) to protect against Variant 1 and 3, along with processor microcode to address Variant 2.

Intel has delivered the new microcode to all system vendors, but there could be a staggered rollout as OEMs issue BIOS updates.

Intel has set up a new security website which has a list of system vendors and links to additional resources for each. Microsoft has also stepped forward to wrap patches up in manually-downloadable Windows Update packages.

With these updates now available, Intel encourages everyone to make sure they are always keeping their systems up-to-date.

Intel says that while Variant 1 will continue to be addressed via software mitigations, the company is making changes to the hardware design to further address the other two. Inte has redesigned parts of the processor to introduce new levels of protection through partitioning that will protect against both Variants 2 and 3.

These changes will begin with Intel's next-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors (code-named Cascade Lake) as well as 8th Generation Intel Core processors expected to ship in the second half of 2018.

For its part, rival AMD has not entirely patched its ecosystem yet. Earlier this year a new report related to alleged vulnerabilities in AMD's latest processors added more pressure to the company.

Obviously, Intel is capitalizing on AMD's recent bad publicity about its chips by announcing its new achievements.


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