Kernel memory leaking Intel processor design flaw

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  1. Brink's Avatar
    Posts : 34,331
    64-bit Windows 10 Pro build 18290
       02 Jan 2018 #1

    Kernel memory leaking Intel processor design flaw


    A fundamental design flaw in Intel's processor chips has forced a significant redesign of the Linux and Windows kernels to defang the chip-level security bug.

    Programmers are scrambling to overhaul the open-source Linux kernel's virtual memory system. Meanwhile, Microsoft is expected to publicly introduce the necessary changes to its Windows operating system in an upcoming Patch Tuesday: these changes were seeded to beta testers running fast-ring Windows Insider builds in November and December.

    Crucially, these updates to both Linux and Windows will incur a performance hit on Intel products. The effects are still being benchmarked, however we're looking at a ballpark figure of five to 30 percent slow down, depending on the task and the processor model. More recent Intel chips have features – such as PCID – to reduce the performance hit. Your mileage may vary.


    Similar operating systems, such as Apple's 64-bit macOS, will also need to be updated – the flaw is in the Intel x86-64 hardware, and it appears a microcode update can't address it. It has to be fixed in software at the OS level, or go buy a new processor without the design blunder.

    Details of the vulnerability within Intel's silicon are under wraps: an embargo on the specifics is due to lift early this month, perhaps in time for Microsoft's Patch Tuesday next week. Indeed, patches for the Linux kernel are available for all to see but comments in the source code have been redacted to obfuscate the issue.

    However, some details of the flaw have surfaced, and so this is what we know.


    Read more: 'Kernel memory leaking' Intel processor design flaw forces Linux, Windows redesign - The Register


    See also:
    Last edited by Brink; 04 Jan 2018 at 18:46.
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  2. IsaacFL's Avatar
    Posts : 73
    Windows 10 Professional (x64)
       02 Jan 2018 #1

    Do we know which CPU's are affected? Assume it is not in AMD?
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  3.    03 Jan 2018 #2

    I wonder how long the intelligence agencies have known about this bug and have been exploiting it?
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  4.    03 Jan 2018 #3

    IsaacFL said: View Post
    Do we know which CPU's are affected? Assume it is not in AMD?
    Thomas Lendacky, a member of the Linux OS group at AMD, posted the following over at LKML:
    AMD processors are not subject to the types of attacks that the kernel page table isolation feature protects against. The AMD microarchitecture does not allow memory references, including speculative references, that access higher privileged data when running in a lesser privileged mode when that access would result in a page fault.
    Source: Huge Intel CPU Bug Allegedly Causes Kernel Memory Vulnerability With Up To 30% Performance Hit In Windows And Linux | HotHardware
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  5.    03 Jan 2018 #4

    these changes were seeded to beta testers running fast-ring Windows Insider builds in November and December.

    I'm curious if any Insiders are experiencing significant slow downs?
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  6. Faith's Avatar
    Posts : 581
    Windows 10 Home October 2018 Update 64-bit
       03 Jan 2018 #5

    If Insiders didn't report performance loss in the months of November throughout December then I doubt non-insiders will notice much either. Also this will unlikely affect gaming performance. But I guess we'll have to wait and see to conclude anything at this point.
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  7. Cliff S's Avatar
    Posts : 22,296
    Win10 Pro, Win10 Pro N, Win10 Home, Win10 Pro Insider Fast Ring, Windows 8.1 Pro, Ubuntu
       03 Jan 2018 #6

    It figures doesn't it Shawn?
    We all "invest" in 8700K's, 1080 Ti's, and high end ASUS Maximus(different ones) gaming motherboards, and now our benchmarking is going to go to the cats
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  8. essenbe's Avatar
    Posts : 11,594
    Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Pro Insider
       03 Jan 2018 #7

    I just wonder how much of this is hyperventilating. If it has been a vulnerability for 10 years, why have we not heard about it before and why have there been no reports of anyone being affected? I really believe there is no OS, piece of software or probably hardware that cannot be compromised. You just have to know where to look. Why do we get security patches constantly? I'm sure there is much of the same thing with driver updates for hardware. Because holes were found and need to be plugged. I think every piece of software is no different It just may not be as big of a deal as everyone is saying. The patch went out in Nov and Dec on the insider builds and I don't recall anyone screaming about a loss of performance, and 35% loss would be very noticeable. I guess time will tell and we shall see pretty soon.
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  9.    03 Jan 2018 #8
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  10.    03 Jan 2018 #9

    5% to 30%? Suspect that may mean that older CPU's will come off worse. Wonder what other wonderful surprises are in store for 2018?
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