Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

From what I have heard, these flaws mostly affect Intel because they are the largest CPU manufacturer. They also dominate the datacenter and cloud-compute industries for now, which are by far the highest value targets.

But as an Intel consumer, I am not happy. My understanding is that more stuff can be fixed in microcode, but I suppose a bug could show up which was not practically fixable. If that happened, I would certainly sue or join a class-action lawsuit. Probably the class-action route, because even if I didn't get any thing, I would be just mad enough at Intel to want them to suffer.

Of course, we do have consumer protection agencies; it is possible that they would step if Intel had sold what would effectively be a defective product.






> these flaws mostly affect Intel because they are the largest CPU manufacturer

It doesn't have anything do to with how large Intel is. They have clearly made a more aggressive hardware design which has more corner cases to break. The designs are broken and microcode can patch some variants of these side channels but the overhead is becoming a problem.

In this case it's not certain if microcode can address the problem but if it can't, disabling of SMT (hyperthreading) can be a significant cost for some workloads (well above 10% for things that haven't been specifically tuned to avoid cache misses, which is most software in my experience).


It's undeniable that they've made aggressive hardware decisions, but... Intel dwarves their second largest competitor (AMD) in revenue by an order of magnitude... and remember, AMD sells GPUs as well.

They are BY FAR the largest producer of CPUs for laptops, desktops, and servers. Note that on each of these platforms, arbitrary code execution is an issue.

Now for phones? Less so. Aggressively locked down software can help.

So, as a researcher, who are you going to research? AMD, who has negligible market share? Apple, who completely locks down their platform? Qualcomm? Well, that's an option, but Intel still makes them look small. Vulnerabilities in Intel CPUs affect the most people and the most money... You're naturally going to put more research into Intel.

It absolutely does have something to do with how large Intel is.


While it’s undeniably a more lucrative target, I still don’t think that is the explanation for the differences in vulnerability. Researchers have been working on the x86/amd64 family of devices for a very long time. Looking aside, many of the published exploits in the past have been against Via and AMD (older architectures).

Like others pointed out, the portability of an attack is usually tried shortly after a successful attack is found. In this case, the attacks have not been found to work elsewhere yet. I won’t count it out that it’s more effort but we’re looking at a timeline of research that spans a year after first reports were made to Intel, which is plenty of time to consider other chips. AMD’s specter problems are very real but much narrower while an entirely separate architecture like ARM shared a lot more of the attack surface with Intel, including Apple chips which you cite as locked down.

Your logic makes sense but the actual historical log of exploits I’ve seen does not seem to line up to explain the result. It only guarantees that researchers will try things against Intel chips first, but nothing about the exclusion of other chips.


Note: “Dwarves” is the Tolkien variant spelling of a mythical race of beings. The normal English word is “Dwarfs”.



Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: