Intel's disclosures during its Whiskey Lake launch yesterday concluded a very important fact: Whiskey Lake processors are the first to contain in-silicone corrections for Meltdown and Foreshadow vulnerabilities. Known earlier today from industry districts Ashraf Eassa Intel's new chips can support the new constraints, and we followed up with Intel to confirm.
Intel representatives confirmed that Whiskey Lake chips bring the first in-silicon fights to the consumer market, but the Amber Lake processors do not have the damping. The current Specter and Meltdown reduction, which Intel delivers through software and microcode patches, can reduce performance by up to 1
The first wave of hardware-based repairs is limited, but Intel tells us that the in-silicon fixes will expand over time. Whiskey Lake processors will still need a combination of microcode and operating system patches for most variants, but now Meltdown and L1TF Foreshadow patched are completely in hardware.
Data center processors in Cascade Lake marked the introduction of in-silicon patches, but they have a different set of protection than consumer processors. For example, Cascade Lake has i-silicone protection against Specter V2, while Whiskey Lake processors do not. Intel representatives indicate that over time, these Specter V2 protections will also come to consumer chips. The limited amount of in-silicon patches reminds us that, like the many other companies affected by these vulnerabilities, Intel is still in its early stages to solve the problems.
However, the new in-silicon agents can help address future vulnerabilities, since new variants based on the same techniques used in Specter and Meltdown continue to appear on a regular basis. Intel does not describe the accuracy of the microstructure changes, and probably for a good reason. Like the rest of the industry, Intel plays a cat and mouse game with security researchers and malicious actors ranging from hackers to the nations, so it would not be a good idea to share too much information about the rights.
We expect Intel's other new processors, like the many expected models in the 9000 series, also want in-silicon reductions, but we are waiting for confirmation.