AMD Claims 'Near-Zero Risk' To Its Processors From Meltdown, Spectre Exploits


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Chip manufacturer AMD Thursday said there is currently "near-zero risk" to its processors related to security flaws found in chips from multiple vendors that now have the tech industry scrambling to protect systems across the globe.  

The Meltdown and Spectre security flaws, discovered by security researchers last year and publicized Wednesday by media reports, are found in chips from multiple vendors, including market leader Intel.

While Intel has announced plans for a "comprehensive" threat mitigation response to the flaws, an AMD spokesperson told CRN the company does not need to release any type of firmware or OS updates to address the Spectre and Meltdown issues.

[Related: 7 Things You Need To Know About Spectre And Meltdown Security Exploits]

"The security research team identified three variants targeting speculative execution. The threat and the response to the three variants differ by microprocessor company, and AMD is not susceptible to all three variants," AMD said in a statement. "Due to differences in AMD's architecture, we believe there is a near-zero risk to AMD processors at this time."

The three variants are called bounds check bypass, branch target injection and rogue data cache load. There was no impact to AMD regarding the branch target injection and rogue data cache load variants, while the spokesperson said other vendors it works with, such as Microsoft and Linux, have resolved the bounds check bypass through software and OS updates with "negligible performance impact expected." 

Solution providers said the seemingly minimal impact to AMD processors could open the door for it to gain both mindshare and market share against Intel, its chief rival.

Rick Gouin, CTO at Winslow Technology Group, a Waltham, Mass.-based solution provider and Dell Titanium partner, said customers today have been asking about the availability of Dell products with AMD chips.

"It sounds like a lot of customers are going to be looking at AMD in light of the Intel issue," Gouin said.

The Meltdown and Spectre flaws could allow hackers to extract information such as encryption keys and passwords from operating systems. Patches have been released for many operating systems, although the updates could slow systems down.

AMD said it was working with other vendors across the ecosystem to help resolve the issue. Intel did not respond for comment on AMD's statement by press time.

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