Chromebooks With Meltdown Patch Have Been Listed By Google

Information Security is a Priority at AMD

Information Security is a Priority at AMD

When Google out to protect users from the Spectre and Meldown vulnerabilities, I faced a tough challenge.

Sadly, not all Chromebooks will get the software updates that would protect them from potential attacks carried out by taking advantage of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. The company previously said that its chips are only susceptible to the first Spectre variant, but in its latest announcement, it admitted that both Spectre variations are "applicable to AMD processors".

Google said it started deploying patches for Meltdown and one variant of Spectre in September, and by December created a patch for Variant 2 of Spectre, which is more hard to fix without slowing down systems.

Industry leaders were made aware of the CPU vulnerabilities several months ago.

Meltdown and Spectre have been discovered in computer chips in billions of computers, smartphone and tablets across the world. Finally, an engineer named Paul Turner from the Technical Infrastructure Group came up with a solution that came to be known as "Retpoline". Not only does the flaw cause significant performance degradation and jump between different instances on the same CPU, fixing Variant 2 required changes to multiple layers of the software stack and significant industry-wide collaboration. "Rolling out these mitigations would have negatively impacted many customers", Ben Traynor Sloss, vice president of Google, wrote.

But Nvidia still has to plug the security hole even if it could affect the performance of its GPUs, as is the case with other fixes for Spectre and Meltdown, though Nvidia hasn't detailed any ramifications the patches may carry.

Google says that all its cloud platforms had patches for all three vulnerabilities by December. Needless to say, other tech giants will definitely pick up this Retpoline technique and look into it.

Another Intel update clarifies just what kind of a performance hit impacted users are seeing on their systems after applying updates.

Intel notes that performance for "web applications that involve complex JavaScript operations may see a somewhat higher impact (up to 10 percent based on our initial measurements)" while "graphics-intensive [workloads] like gaming or compute-intensive like financial analysis see minimal impact".

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