Intel refutes claim that newly-uncovered Spectre vulnerability variants need patching with performance-leeching fixes
University of Virginia cybersecurity researchers published a paper in which they claimed that a variant of the Spectre vulnerability could potentially impact "billions" of devices, and require patches that severely hinder performance. Intel, however, refuted the claim in a statement.
Researchers at the University of Virginia recently claimed that newly-uncovered variants of the Spectre CPU vulnerability could affect "billions" of devices with AMD and Intel processors. More concerningly, the nature of the exploits means that any potential patches could severely curtail processor performance.
Intel replied by stating that "existing mitigations were not being bypassed," though that is what the researchers appear to have demonstrated in their paper. Ashish Venkat, one of the paper's authors, had this to say with regards to Intel's security guidelines for Spectre: "Intel's suggested defense against Spectre, which is called LFENCE, places sensitive code in a waiting area until the security checks are executed, and only then is the sensitive code allowed to execute. But it turns out the walls of this waiting area have ears, which our attack exploits."
If this turns out to be a real issue, despite Intel's statement, a fix could put Intel and AMD in a quandary. The vulnerabilities exploit CPU branch prediction capabilities. Rolling back the speculative code execution functionality on older CPUs could have major performance implications.
Arjun Krishna - Tech Writer - 623 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2019
I've had a passion for PC gaming since 1996, when I watched my dad score frags in Quake as a 1 year-old. I've gone on to become a Penguin-published author and tech journalist. Apart from working as an editor at Notebookcheck, I write for outlets including TechSpot and Gamingbolt. I’m the Director of Content at Flying V Group, one of the top 5 digital marketing agencies in Orange County. When I'm not traveling the world, gathering stories for my next book, you can find me tinkering with my PC.