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​Major Linux redesign in the works to deal with Intel security flaw

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Linux
Hardware
Security

Long ago, Intel made a design mistake in its 64-bit chips -- and now, all Intel-based operating systems and their users must pay the price.

Linux's developers saw this coming early on and patched Linux to deal with it. That's the good news. The bad news is it will cause at least a 5-percent performance drop. Applications may see far more serious performance hits. The popular PostgreSQL database is estimated to see at least a 17-percent slowdown.

How bad will it really be? I asked Linux's creator Linus Torvalds, who said: "There's no one number. It will depend on your hardware and on your load. I think 5 percent for a load with a noticeable kernel component (e.g. a database) is roughly in the right ballpark. But if you do micro-benchmarks that really try to stress it, you might see double-digit performance degradation."

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Google and Red Hat

  • Red Hat Says Security Updates for Meltdown & Spectre Bugs May Affect Performance

    Red Hat's John Terrill informs Softpedia today that Red Hat is aware of the two hardware bugs (Meltdown and Spectre) affecting most modern microprocessors and they're working on security updates to mitigate them on their supported operating systems.

    The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities (CVE-2017-5753, CVE-2017-5715, and CVE-2017-5754) were publicly disclosed earlier today as critical hardware flaws affecting modern microprocessors made in the last two decades. These can be exploited by an unprivileged attacker to bypass hardware restrictions through three unique attack paths and gain read access to privileged memory.

    Red Hat Product Security provided us with several resources to better understand the impact of these hardware bugs on any of their supported Linux-based operating systems from an open source technology perspective. They said that Intel, AMD, POWER 8, POWER 9, IBM System z, and ARM chips are affected by the newly discovered vulnerabilities.

  • Google Makes Disclosure About The CPU Vulnerability Affecting Intel / AMD / ARM

    We're finally getting actual technical details on the CPU vulnerability leading to the recent race around (K)PTI that when corrected may lead to slower performance in certain situations. Google has revealed they uncovered the issue last year and have now provided some technical bits.

    Google says their Project Zero team last year discovered serious flaws in speculative execution that could lead to reading system memory where it shouldn't be authorized. Google was also able to demonstrate an attack where one VM could access the physical memory of the host machine and in turn read memory of other VMs on the same host.

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