Intel is having a difficult time working around issues relating to Meltdown and Spectre, two nastly little attacks on modern PC architectures that ended up affecting Intel’s public image quite badly. The company has been trying its hardest to keep things calm and stay on top of the problem, even though it recently had to admit that its latest patches were causing “higher than expected numbers of reboots”, in addition to performance problems for some cloud providers. The good news out of Intel this week is that they are going to be releasing processors that won’t be vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre later this year.
In an earnings call discussing the financial year-end fourth quarter for Intel, CEO Brian Krzanich announced that the company was already working on new processors that would have these vulnerabilities fixed in hardware, and that they could also reverse any performance losses with these products. However, Intel is skittish about making any promises at this point, because it has stumbled twice this past month in addressing the issues and working with hardware vendors to mitigate the security risks. Actually promising products with a set delivery date could be problematic for Intel if it misses that deadline.
Plus, if those products aren’t socketed processors, and if they aren’t in Intel’s halo range, namely Core i7, Core i9, and Xeon Gold and Platinum, it becomes another PR problem they need to work around. If the only chips that carry the fix are Pentium processors, that doesn’t help much.
Intel is also trying to climb out of hot water that they landed themselves in with the news that they told their industry partners and customers about the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerability first, but not the US government. In all likelihood, the Chinese government knew about these issues long before the NSA got wind of them.