Ever since Meltdown and Spectre were disclosed, Intel’s various customers have been asking how long it would take for hardware fixes to these problems to ship. The fixes will deploy with Cascade Lake, Intel’s next server platform due later this year, but the company is finally lifting the lid on some of those improvements and security enhancements at Hot Chips this week.
Variant 1 will still require software-level protections, while Variant 2 (that’s the “classic” Spectre attack) will require a mixture of hardware and software protection. Variant 3 (Meltdown) will be blocked in hardware, 3a (discovered by ARM) patched via firmware, with Variant 5 (Foreshadow) also patched in hardware. Firmware fixes can be treated as equivalent to hardware since the new systems that’ll launch with Cascade Lake will include them by default.
Overall demand for these parts is expected to be robust, given how rapidly the IT industry is shifting to cloud computing. Any talk of fallout from the initial disclosures has been limited, and there’s no sign that anyone has treated the issue as a reason to jump ship from Intel and adopt its competitors’ hardware. If ARM or AMD are seeing an uptick in adoptions based on these security issues, they have yet to say so.