Intel and AMD – what are we talking about:


As part of the testing of the new Intel and AMD chips, disappointing results were obtained. Such a potential threat as exposure to the Spectre esploit was found in both variants.

More detailed:


Experts from several universities, in particular, Virginia and California, conducted a study. So it turned out that the new versions of the Spectre exploit cope with standard security practices. Such new options are not safe for modern processors.




In addition: as it was found out, software solutions for blocking potential hazards are quite sound, but they significantly reduce performance. Thus, the meaning of upgrading computers is lost…




When using an esploit, data leaks in three main ways, which are based on stealing it from the cache. This is possible based on the features of architectural solutions for micro-operations of chips.


The first option is performed while retrieving command information from the cache. Such mechanisms are provided in both types of processors. Intel has had such capabilities since 2011, and AMD has had them since 2017. Thus, information theft occurs in a single data stream. That is, at the boundary of the core and the system data.




The second attack option uses a hardware multithreading architecture. Thus, two data streams are used within the same physical processor core. That is, data theft occurs, thus, due to the difference in the passage of threads in logical cores.


And the last case is due to temporary execution vulnerabilities.This is how the wrong execution path is set. And during this brief moment of verification, information is intercepted…


General Technology details:


All these vulnerabilities are not critical to fix and testing. Of course, everything is fixable – both in Intel and AMD. Especially – because I am interested in the question of what it will cost. And from the side of losses of processor power, and from the financial side.



The proposed solutions are still under consideration. The fact is that these exploit attacks are at a very low level of impact. Therefore, any interference with processor caches is fraught with resource losses. And so large that it may raise the question of using such processors. In other words: the optimization and speeds in the chip cores are so high that any changes can be fatal to performance…



In conclusion, we can say that everything is not so bad. That is, these possible threats during testing are still hypothetical, and there is time to fix security gaps. For example, to implement the latest versions of the Spectre esploit, you will need to work around a lot of difficulties. These are complex barriers to existing blocking and, possibly, future regular patches from manufacturers.

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