The first chips to feature the hardware protections, including the Xeon line and eighth-generation Intel Core processors, will arrive in the second half of 2018.
Intel’s long-term fix for the Meltdown and Spectre flaws will involve a chip redesign that introduces “protective walls” around a PC’s sensitive data.
“We have redesigned parts of the processor to introduce new levels of protection through partitioning,” Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich said in a Thursday blog post. “Think of this partitioning as additional ‘protective walls’ between applications and user privilege levels to create an obstacle for bad actors.”
In January, Krzanich discussed “silicon-based changes” to future Intel chips, but did not elaborate. On Thursday, Krzanich said the update will protect Intel chips from the Meltdown vulnerability, and the second variant of the Spectre flaw. For now, the first variant of the Spectre flaw will continue to be addressed through software patches.
The hardware change will work with your PC’s operating system to install virtual fences, preventing attacks that exploit the second variant of Spectre flaw. Intel’s processors will stop the threat without sacrificing any processing speed, he said.
The first chips to feature the hardware protections, including the company’s Xeon line and eighth-generation Intel Core processors, will arrive in the second half of 2018.
“But again, our work is not done. This is not a singular event; it is a long-term commitment,” Krzanich wrote.
These flaws have been tough to fix since they deal with the chip’s design. Both can essentially help malware steal data from your PC, including passwords, emails and any other sensitive data. In the interim, the IT industry has rolled out software fixes that can lessen the threat. But security researchers warn that the Spectre flaw in particular will remain a problem until chipmakers redesign their processors.