Linus Torvalds Unloads on Intel over Spectre Kernel Patches

Linus calls ‘BULLSHIT’[1] on Intel’s attempt to patch various Spectre vulnerabilities describing the patches as ‘COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE’[1].

Shortly thereafter he announced with disappointment that Linux 4.15 was delayed and moving to RC9[2] but gave other possible explanations for the delay.

Linus’ frustrations with Intel certainly have merit.  These flaws themselves and response have been disappointing on many fronts.  Unfortunately, in this particular exchange, Intel Linux Kernel Engineer David Woodhouse seems to have taken the brunt of the mailing list lashing.

David offered what seems like some sound technical explanations but even explained the details seem to have some troubling implications.  Apparently, the Skylake architecture may require an additional level of protective code.[3][4].  It’s not clear if this is related to the hyper-threading related Skylake bug that required BIOS/UEFI patches back in June-2017[5] or some other unrelated issue.  Regardless, it’s not clear that those changes will be accepted which leaves the possibility of that generation of CPU remaining more vulnerable in the end.

Sources:

  1. https://lkml.org/lkml/2018/1/21/192
  2. https://lkml.org/lkml/2018/1/21/196
  3. https://lkml.org/lkml/2018/1/21/194
  4. https://lkml.org/lkml/2018/1/22/598
  5. https://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2017/06/msg00308.html
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