AMD Hit With Multiple Lawsuits Over Spectre Chip Exploits


Nobody is happy with the situation surrounding recently disclosed CPU vulnerabilities collectively known as Spectre and Metldown (there are two variants of the former and one of the latter). The anger on the part of consumers has erupted into a series of lawsuits, including at least 32 class-action suits filed against Intel and another four that have been hurled at AMD, with potentially more to come.

AMD has perhaps been less of a target because it is not really affected by Meltdown, only Spectre. Be that as it may, AMD has not been immune to legal scrutiny, with four separate class-action lawsuits alleging a series of violations—everything from securities fraud and breach of warranty, to unfair competition and negligence. All four cases have been submitted to a US district court in San Jose, California.

"Despite its knowledge of the Spectre defect, AMD continued to sell its processors to unknowing customers at prices much higher than what customers would have paid had they known about the Spectre defect and its threat to critical security features as well as on the processing speeds of the devices they purchased," one of the lawsuits alleges.

"Defendant has been unable or unwilling to repair the security vulnerabilities in the subject CPUs or offer Plaintiff and class members a non-defective CPU or reimbursement for the cost of such CPU and the consequential damages arising from the purchase and use of such CPUs," reads another lawsuit.

The second lawsuit goes on to claim that AMD's software patches have not been adequate in protecting affected customers from all variants of Spectre, and that firmware updates will be required. "Even then, these 'patches' dramatically degrade CPU performance," the lawsuits states.

Firmware updates and patches have been coming from all directions, including Intel, AMD, Microsoft, Google, and others. Some of the early patches and firmware updates have caused additional headaches for customers, in the form of random reboots and, in some cases, broken systems that refuse to boot altogether. On top of it all, the negative performance impact of mitigating Spectre and Meltdown has been well documented.

We suspect that things will settle over time, once all parties involved have a chance to really analyze things and tweak their patches. However, to truly protect against Spectre and Meltdown, it seems a change in the actual hardware design needs to take place. Until then, don't be surprise if more class-action lawsuits emerge.