Intel has egg on its face at the moment, while AMD is making omelettes out of the situation. In case you missed the late breaking news last night, the situation we are talking about is a chip flaw found in all modern Intel processors dating back at least a decade. The vulnerability requires a software patch that could set performance back anywhere from 5 to 30 percent, maybe more, depending on the workload. AMD says its processors are not affected by the bug, causing shares of the company to surge in after hours trading.
Shares of AMD shot up more than 7 percent last night and through this morning, all before the opening bell. Meanwhile, Intel's pre-market shares are down nearly 3 percent. That could be just a minor ding if the chip flaw turns out to be as serious as some of the early reports indicate. Likewise, AMD's rise is share value could be just the beginning of a steeper climb, as a significant drop in performance on Intel systems would undoubtedly boost sales of AMD's latest Zen-based CPUs.
Shares of AMD surged more than 7 percent last night and are up 5.46 percent in early market trading. (Source: Google)
It's all too early to tell, but what we know so far is that Windows and Linux kernels require a redesign of sorts to sidestep the bug. Microsoft has an embargo on the release notes and is expected to reveal more details when it rolls out its Patch Tuesday update. Intel should also have some official information to share on the matter by then. In the meantime, we suspect Intel is working closely with Microsoft to mitigate the fallout and make sure the potential impact gets relayed correctly.
The bug in question is a hardware flaw that, when exploited, would allow an attacker to sniff out the contents of protected kernel memory. This can contain all kinds of information, from mundane data entry to passwords and other sensitive stuff. Early reporting suggests that virtualized environments are most affected by this, though again, the true extent of the fallout won't be fully known until Microsoft issues a patch.
Interestingly enough, there is a LInux patch being doled out that implements a fix on all x86 processors, including AMD. So, AMD is not immune to the performance penalty, depending on the situation. However, AMD insists it has protections in place to prevent the kinds of attacks the flaw allows, and is recommending that users avoid the patch if running one of its processors.
Thumbnail Image Source: Flickr via Quintin Lin