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Computing

Tech Firms Hope Hardware Fixes Won’t Be Required to Solve the Chipocalypse

January 5, 2018

Early concerns that a pervasive chip flaw called Spectre couldn’t be patched by software are starting to soften slightly.

Backstory: Two new chip flaws, Meltdown and Spectre, threaten to reveal private data in most of the world’s computers and many smartphones. (For some context, Apple says all Macs and iPhones are affected.) Meltdown is being solved with software patches, but Spectre was widely thought to be unsolvable with updates.

What’s new: As the Financial Times notes, Carnegie Mellon’s computer emergency response team has now U-turned on an early suggestion that “replacing vulnerable CPU hardware” was the only fix for Spectre. It’s deleted that text from its vulnerability note.

Now what? The Register outlines a series of software tweaks (warning: it’s pretty darn technical), which tech giants are working on in order to mitigate the flaw without resorting to new chips. But the site still warns that “the most effective fix is redesigned computing hardware.”

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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