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AMD will issue optional Ryzen and Epyc microcode updates for Spectre

13 January 2018

The company's Project Zero team discovered the chip vulnerabilities past year as it outlined in a blog post last week.

By December, the company was done rolling our protections against all three variants. Google has detailed its process for patching its own cloud services like Gmail and Google Drive against Spectre and Meltdown, and it says that it managed to protect against those vulnerabilities without any hit to performance.

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The slowdowns relate to the way Meltdown and Spectre work. The spooky nicknames just add to the drama of this entire event.

With its head start on this issue - a luxury not every vendor had, by the way - the company was able to come up with solutions for Variants 1 and 3 as far back as September. 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.

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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". Finally, inspiration struck in the form of "Retpoline" - a novel software binary modification technique that prevents branch-target-injection, created by Paul Turner, a software engineer who is part of our Technical Infrastructure group. It allowed the company to protect its services without having to modify source codes or to switch off hardware components. "Furthermore, testing this feature, particularly when combined with optimisations such as software branch prediction hints, demonstrated that this protection came with nearly no performance loss". That could mean noticeable performance hits when blocking the hacks. But with the vulnerabilities now public, security researchers worry it'll only be a matter of time.

Google claims that they have had no performance complaints since implementing these solutions, a big win for customers.

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Jeffress also said he was "grateful" to have Trump as president and thanked him for the "courage" to protect the U.S. The African Union responded to President Donald Trump's description of African nations as "shithole countries." .

As companies are trying to recover from what were, and still are, perhaps the most severe CPU bugs in the history of the computer, people are wondering how exactly does this affect them.

AMD will issue optional Ryzen and Epyc microcode updates for Spectre