Container infrastructure a silver lining amid Intel CPU flaw fixes

Pat Wise
January 13, 2018

Shenoy said that if the reboot issue requires a firmware update, it will be distributed through normal channels.

Intel appears likely to see the greatest fallout from Spectre and Meltdown, as the latter vulnerability affects its processors most of all. However, Intel still recommends end-users should apply the updates for both OS and hardware. "Needless to say, enterprise users and hobbyists alike are immensely frustrated by having to choose between system security and system stability and performance, and that Intel isn't being fully forthright with some customers".

In the meantime, Microsoft this week said it has "temporarily paused" patches for Windows customers running AMD processors after some users reported seeing the "blue screen of death" after the update was applied. "These systems are running Intel Broadwell and Haswell CPUs for both client and data center", it added.

For recent chip flaws, once the patches are applied, developers have to rewrite code to support the patch. The performance impact of this was significant.

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Even better news is that Google has open-sourced Reptoline so that other companies can take advantage of it in their own Spectre fixes.

The moonshot came from Google engineer Paul Turner, and it's known as "Retpoline". AMD have also reiterated that their CPU architectures are not vulnerable to variant three Meltdown attacks, and that their Radeon GPUs do not use speculative execution entirely and are not susceptible to attacks whatsoever. And worse, you may not get patches at the rate you'd expect if Intel is telling system manufacturers not to issue them right now.

The potential review of the Intel Meltdown patch comes soon after CEO BrianKrzanich announced the company's "Security-First Pledge".

The scope of the flaw was monumental, though the affair was compounded by security updates that have impacted performance and system stability. They will lend an important level of security. As other vendors are still working on patching systems, Google notes Meltdown and Spectre are the most hard fixes its engineers have encountered in a decade.

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