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Intel promises hardware fixes for Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, but only for new chips

Updated 5 years ago
Published Jan 26th, 2018 6:50AM EST

Intel on Thursday reported its financial results for Q4 2017, posting great numbers for the period: $17.1 billion in revenue, or an increase of 8%. The Meltdown-Spectre security issue hasn’t even dented Intel’s earnings yet, as it was only unveiled a few weeks ago.

The Meltdown-Spectre subject came up from the get-go as Intel CEO Brian Krzanich started the call with a statement about Intel’s commitment to security.

Later, the CEO said that Intel will ship later this year products with “in-silicon” fixes for the security issues.

“Security is a top priority for Intel, foundational to our products, and it’s critical to the expanse of our data-centric strategy,” Krzanich said, according to PC World. “Our near-term focus is on delivering high-quality mitigations to protect our customers’ infrastructure from these exploits. 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.”

So far, Intel and its partners have released software patches for existing products that pack Intel chips. The Meltdown and Spectre issues are hardware vulnerabilities, and Intel needs to develop hardware fixes for future products. Existing Intel chips will never be fixed. That’s the kind of undertaking that might seriously affect Intel’s earnings — imagine having to recall millions of products to service the chips.

Some of the software patches are buggy, and they come with an unwanted side effect. They slow down computers to some extent, depending on what the PCs are used for. Therefore, a hardware fix needs to arrive soon for future products.

However, Intel failed to explain exactly when the new hardware will arrive, or whether they’ll patch both Spectre and Meltdown. PCWorld speculates that just Meltdown will be fixed in this first wave of hardware fixes.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.