AMD to issue optional fixes for Spectre vulnerabilities later this week

Arif Bacchus

Following reports that Microsoft’s Spectre patches were bricking Windows PCs, the company pulled back the update. Since then, AMD has gone on to update consumers on the situation via a post on the company website, penned by AMD Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster (via Windows Central.)

AMD will be issuing optional fixes for the various Spectre vulnerabilities and variants later this week. Specifically, there are two variants of Spectre which AMD is fixing. Each of the fixes come with their own resolution, be it via Microsoft’s Windows Update, or via microcode updates.

For Variant 1 of Spectre, otherwise known as Bounds Check Bypass or Spectre, AMD is planning on working with Microsoft to issue a patch. Here is what the company has to say:

Microsoft is distributing patches for the majority of AMD systems now. We are working closely with them to correct an issue that paused the distribution of patches for some older AMD processors (AMD Opteron, Athlon and AMD Turion X2 Ultra families) earlier this week. We expect this issue to be corrected shortly and Microsoft should resume updates for these older processors by next week. For the latest details, please see Microsoft’s website.

For Variant 2, otherwise known as Branch Target Injection or Spectre, AMD is “working closely with the industry” to address the threat. AMD believes that their processor architectures “make it difficult to exploit Variant 2,” but they still plan on issuing a combination of microcode update and OS patches:

AMD will make optional microcode updates available to our customers and partners for Ryzen and EPYC processors starting this week. We expect to make updates available for our previous generation products over the coming weeks. These software updates will be provided by system providers and OS vendors; please check with your supplier for the latest information on the available option for your configuration and requirements.

AMD holds that Variant 3 of Spectre (Branch Target Injection or Spectre) is not applicable to AMD processors. This is because of “privilege level protections within paging architecture.” AMD also mentions that AMD Radeon GPU architectures do not use speculative execution and are not susceptible to these Spectre or Meltdown threats. You can expect for AMD to provide updates as this situation progresses, so be sure to keep tuned for more in the days ahead.