AMD Promises In-Silicon Fix for Spectre Flaw on New CPUs

AMD’s Commitment to Security

Unlike Intel’s CPUs which are vulnerable to both Spectre and Meltdown, AMD thankfully only has Spectre to worry about. Due to the memory configuration of AMD’s platform, it is virtually impossible for the Meltdown flaw to affect it.

Spectre comes in three variants and the GPZ Variant 1 is the only one that affects AMD processors. Specifically it requires for the JIT compiler for eBPF to be on, which by is already off by default. So the Spectre GPZ Variant 1 ‘fix’ for AMD seems like it would have been a straight forward one.

Moreover, AMD systems are immune to the GPZ Variant 2 flaw (Branch Target Injection) and GPZ Variant 3 (Rogue Data Cache Load).

How Secure are the Upcoming AMD Zen+ and Zen 2?

During the most recent quarterly earnings call, CEO Dr. Lisa Su addressed how they are rolling out fixes for the issue. Specifically, the upcoming Zen+ processors (codename Pinnacle Ridge) on 12nm will have microcode-level patches. Since these are already well-past the design stage, this is the only fix possible for this line.

For new processors due out in 2019 however, which includes Zen 2 (codename Matise), it will be different. These CPUs are going to be on 7nm and will feature architecture-level improvement. Although the design itself is already completed, AMD can still make changes which will completely address the existing security flaw before it rolls out.


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