AMD HAS BASICALLY BLOWN a big fat raspberry at Intel by boasting that its processors are immune to the ZombieLoad flaw and its fellow MDS vulnerabilities.
"At AMD we develop our products and services with security in mind. Based on our analysis and discussions with the researchers, we believe our products are not susceptible to 'Fallout', 'RIDL' or ‘ZombieLoad Attack' because of the hardware protection checks in our architecture," an AMD spokesperson told the INQUIRER.
"We have not been able to demonstrate these exploits on AMD products and are unaware of others having done so."
There's arguably space for a 'but' in that statement, such as, 'but others might end up finding exploits in time'. However, for the time being, AMD's chips look safe from the new quadruplet of speculative vulnerability exploits.
To protect Intel CPUs from the MDS exploits, performance-sapping patches need to be applied and in some situations, it's been recommended that Intel's Hyper-Threading tech gets switched off until comprehensive fixes are pushed out.
On some Mac machines, Apple has noted that a 40 per cent drop in performance can occur with such mitigations, which would be akin to chopping off three-quarters of your left leg and asked to run a hundred metres... kind of.
For PCs, the performance hit Intel-based machines might suffer probably won't be noticeable, but in data centre situations, where Intel is a swinging dick, a performance drop in say eight to nine per cent matters.
As AMD's Ryzen and EPYC chips aren't affected by the exploits and thus don't need the mitigations, it's starting to look like the performance gap between Intel and Team Red's processors in some workloads and benchmarks where Intel has usually be the fastest could start to close.
With Hyper-Threading enabled on several Intel sixth, seventh, and eighth-generation processors, Linux-loving site Phoronix found that Intel CPUs saw a 16 per cent drop in performance with the MDS patches and mitigations enabled, while AMD's Ryzen 2990WX and 2700X saw only a three per cent slowdown with their "default mitigations" in place.
And where AMD has the lead in some multi-threaded tasks, it's likely to have to scope to expand that lead, especially if Intel processor users need to kill Hyper-Threading.
With the third-generation Ryzen processors on the horizon, sporting the 7-nanometre Zen 2 architecture, AMD could see itself in a winning position once summer comes a-calling. µ
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