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Intel accused of not being forthcoming on impact of Meltdown, Spectre

11 January 2018

Intel has not been forthcoming about the exact nature of the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws in its processors.

According to commentators, the security flaws have helped reveal fundamental issues with processor designs over the past 20 years. Also they point out that the software updates to protect PCs will have performance impacts.

According to The Verge, it is still not  clear to anyone exactly how badly these performance impacts will be on older desktop systems, or how significant they will be to server-based cloud platforms. The rport adds that Intel has not helped either, with its lack of transparency.

In an angry first response to the initial Meltdown and Spectre rumours Intel claimed, ''performance impacts are workload-dependent,'' and that they ''should not be significant'' to the average computer user.

Intel did not even refer to potential server problems. In its second response the next day, Intel admitted ''performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher'' on some workloads, but the wording was still vague and confusing, the report added.

Intel has promised to issue updates for 90 per cent of processor products introduced in the past five years by the end of this week to fix the security problems.

In his CES keynote address Brian Krzanich sought to address the issue saying, ''some workloads may experience a larger impact than others,'' but did not elaborate on workloads would be affected.

Meanwhile, Apple has released updates for iOS, macOS High Sierra and Safari on Sierra and El Capitan to help defend against Spectre, but Apple Watch remains unaffected by both Meltdown and Security researchers have recently uncovered security issues known by two names, Meltdown and Spectre (See: Apple releases iOS 11.2.2 with security update for Safari to defend against the Spectre bug ).

Apple says on the support page of its website: ''These issues apply to all modern processors and affect nearly all computing devices and operating systems. All Mac systems and iOS devices are affected, but there are no known exploits impacting customers at this time. Since exploiting many of these issues requires a malicious app to be loaded on your Mac or iOS device, we recommend downloading software only from trusted sources such as the App Store.''

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