Google Reveals How it Protected Gmail from Spectre and Meltdown

Google Reveals How it Protected Gmail from Spectre and Meltdown

Nvidia has been in touch to clarify that its GPU hardware is not at risk from the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.

"We are working quickly with these customers to understand, diagnose and address this reboot issue, "said Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel Corporation". The warnings were shared with computer makers and large cloud providers, but not consumers or smaller companies.

But fixes are not happening smoothly.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Intel is quietly advising system manufacturers to hold off on any patches that they issue to customers while Intel looks at the issue of bugs in the code that was developed to fix the problem.

Meltdown, Google explains, "breaks the most fundamental isolation between user applications and the operating system". They have revealed that information on how much slowdown will be caused and which devices might still be eligible for the patch that was rolled out shortly after the reveal of the security flaw. Williams says people will be dealing with these vulnerabilities for years to come.

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However, if you're running machines with compute-intensive tasks, say mining bitcoins or rendering high-resolution video, you might want to avoid the microcode updates entirely until you know they're stable and won't significantly slow down your systems.

The patch for the vulnerable processors requires intervention on a feature that is directly meant to boost chip performance.

Now that CES is winding down, attention is returning to the response to the major vulnerabilities caused by oversights in the way speculative execution is handled in most modern processors. Intel's patch effectively builds a new bridge right next to the broken one, but developers still have to tell the cars to cross the new bridge instead of the old one. The second Variant, which again is part of Spectre, proved much more hard to patch, as Google was specifically trying to avoid a hit to performance.

If cloud solutions prove to be better protected against flaws like Spactre and Meltdown, it may push some IT leaders to consider further adoption.

"Now that there's all this blood in the water, I expect more researchers to look at these microprocessor vulnerabilities", Williams said.

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