How will chip bugs impact product unveilings at CES?

With nearly all computers and mobile devices around the world exposed to new security flaws, the likes of Intel, AMD and ARM will be forced to amend their marketing materials ahead of product unveilings at CES 2018. So far no data breaches have been reported, however researchers have no revealed that all chips powered by Intel, ARM and AMD are at risk of being hacked. 

There are reportedly two separate security flaws, known as Meltdown and Spectre. Meltdown affects laptops, desktop computers and internet servers with Intel chips. Meanwhile Spectre affects chips in smartphones, tablets and computers. 

The immediate knock-on effect of this is how the patches will impact performance. The initial solution will separate the kernel’s memory from user processes, which sure up the vulnerability, however it could also slow systems down by up to 30 per cent depending on the processor model. 

For everyday users, it’s possible the patches won’t have much of an impact on everyday usage and gaming frame rates. Additionally, future fixes should have less of an effect on performance. However, it couldn’t have come at a worse time for the manufacturers with CES around the corner. They will now likely be forced to amend marketing materials in order to account for the knock in performance. 

While exact details of the flaw remain under embargo, the vulnerability reportedly could allow normal user programs to see some of the content of protected kernel memory areas. Basically what this means is that any malicious programs might be able to read information like passwords, login keys, files cached from disk, and other personal data records.

Now that it has been made public, there is a major concern that the bugs are discoverable and may be taken advantage of. To make matters worse, experts now believe that all future chips will have to be designed in a different way. "It’s huge in the geek world," wrote computer security researcher Rob Graham on his blog. "We’ll need to redesign operating systems and how CPUs [central processing units] are made."

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