Ever since Google’s Project Zero unveiled security issues inherent in CPUs from Intel and AMD (to some extent), manufacturers have been scrambling to patch up the problem software-side. These mitigations have had varying degrees of success; Microsoft administered an emergency Windows security update, while Intel had to retract an early version of its own patch. As Intel and AMD look toward the future, both companies’ CEOs have promised to take care of Spectre/Meltdown on hardware level with their next generations of processors.
During an investors conference call, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stated, “We’re working to create silicon-based changes to future products that will directly address the Spectre and Meltdown threats in hardware. And those products will begin appearing later this year.” Krzanich also went on to say that the vulnerabilities won’t impact sales. No details were given as to which “future products” he was referencing, but it’s rumored that Cannon Lake or Ice Lake (9th generation) could be out by the end of the year, which would fit the time frame Krzanich referenced.
On AMD’s side, CEO Lisa Su had something similar to say: “Longer term, we have included changes in our future processor cores, starting with our Zen 2 design, to further address potential Spectre-like exploits.” AMD was confident in their CPUs being virtually free of the security exploits when the news initially came out, but fact that the company came out to say its next generation will be free of the problem speaks to the broad impact of Spectre and Meltdown are having. AMD still has Zen+ CPUs set to release in April this though, and Zen 2 chips aren’t due out until 2019.
Aside from next generation CPUs to overcome the recently discovered Spectre and Meltdown issues, both chip manufacturers are shaking up the PC hardware market in other ways. At CES 2018, Intel and AMD announced a partnership to bring Radeon RX Vega tech to integrated graphics for Intel Core CPUs in laptops. AMD is also set to launch Ryzen CPUs with Vega integrated graphics next month. For more details on the security exploits, check out our breakdown of the five things you should know about Spectre and Meltdown.