Does Google have a Spectre fix that doesn’t slow down PCs?
BY PATRICK DEVANEY
When the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities hit last week, major tech firms have been falling over each other trying to get their fixes out there. The problem so far is that all fixes that have been pushed by Microsoft and Intel have actually slowed down the computers that have received them. Google isn’t happy with this situation and the search giant thinks it can close up the vulnerabilities without affecting processor performance.
With Google’s fix to the Variant 2 of the Spectre attack, Google uses software patches to address the problem, rather than just disabling the affected CPU features. Variant 2 is considered the toughest Spectre issue to fix without affecting performance and Google claim that their patch has a negligent impact on performance. In fact, in a security blog post, Retpoline, the name of Google’s software-implemented patch, is claimed have no or little impact:
“Retpoline sequences are a software construct which allow indirect branches to be isolated from speculative execution. This may be applied to protect sensitive binaries (such as operating system or hypervisor implementations) from branch target injection attacks against their indirect branches.”
Google believes that Retpoline based protection is the best performing for Variant 2 Spectre issues on current hardware. Google hopes that by sharing their findings publicly they’ll be adopted industry-wide. Watch this space.