Fundamental design flaw in Intel chips forces significant redesign of Linux / Windows / macOS kernels

The Register:

A fundamental design flaw in Intel’s processor chips has forced a significant redesign of the Linux and Windows kernels to defang the chip-level security bug.

Programmers are scrambling to overhaul the open-source Linux kernel’s virtual memory system. Meanwhile, Microsoft is expected to publicly introduce the necessary changes to its Windows operating system in an upcoming Patch Tuesday: these changes were seeded to beta testers running fast-ring Windows Insider builds in November and December.

And:

Similar operating systems, such as Apple’s 64-bit macOS, will also need to be updated – the flaw is in the Intel x86-64 hardware, and it appears a microcode update can’t address it. It has to be fixed in software at the OS level, or go buy a new processor without the design blunder.

The worst news is that since the issue is in the hardware itself, a software patch of something so deeply rooted in the pipeline will cause a performance hit.

Terrible new for Intel. More spark for Apple to roll their own CPUs.

UPDATE:

Finally, macOS has been patched to counter the chip design blunder since version 10.13.2, according to operating system kernel expert Alex Ionescu.



  • JimCracky

    “Terrible new for Intel. More spark for Apple to roll their own CPUs.”

    Really?

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  • invinciblegod

    Apple is not immune to bugs so something like this in a very complex chip can presumably happen to Apple too. As I recall, AMD also had a problem a while ago but instead of a security bug, it was a crashing bug so less dangerous but the fix also impacted performance by 20%.

  • Well, that explains it better. Something came across my Facebook trending yesterday saying Mac OS had a horrible terrible kernel flaw that OMG would be DOOM for everyone. I didn’t click figuring it was bait. NIice to see it was since this is about chips and not OSes. But, yeah, nice of Facebook to promote the clickbait instead of the news…

  • Kip Beatty

    A performance hit of up to 30% on all Intel CPUs made in the last decade? WTF?

  • Mo

    Wait, this is The Register reporting? Have they moved up from “scandal sheet” status?

    • Sigivald

      The Register is weird; sometimes they’re very technical and objective with insightful reporting on serious issues.

      And sometimes they’re garbage.

      • Mo

        I remember a whole lot of garbage FUD about Apple, in a previous decade. Relatively little objectivity.

  • Sigivald

    See update at the end:

    “Finally, macOS has been patched to counter the chip design blunder since version 10.13.2, according to operating system kernel expert Alex Ionescu.”

    • Dave Mark

      Thanks. I updated the post.

  • Meaux

    Here’s a note from the Google security team that discovered the vulnerability. It’s not just Intel, but AMD and ARM as well. As Apple’s A-series chips use ARM architecture, would that imply those chips are affected too?

    https://security.googleblog.com/2018/01/todays-cpu-vulnerability-what-you-need.html