Intel has become clean Anandtech with regard to the level of Specter and Meltdown protection within its new 8th-generation Whiskey Lake U-series Core processors and 8th generation Amber Lake Y processors, and concludes that the hardware-based defense against the security flaws is not as extensive as we had expected Intel promised these solutions earlier this year.
Anandtech created a handy visual guide for exactly which Specter and Meltdown defenses are baked in the Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake hardware. Intel tells Anandtech that there are almost as many hardware solutions for the Whiskey Lake chips as in the upcoming Cascade Lake processors for servers.
However, they do not amount to much if you list the current known variants of both security errors. At that time, the Whiskey Lake processors are only protected against two versions of Meltdown at the hardware level, with all other solutions based on firmware and software.
This means that new temporary solutions can arise that can bypass Intel's solutions for firmware and software level. And if the nature of hackers has shown us something, it is only a matter of time before we see those temporary solutions.
In this respect, the Amber line of chips is not at all protected at hardware level. This is because Amber Lake is essentially a rehashing of the recently released Kaby Lake is being renewed processors – only with a smaller 5 watt power for fanless designs – while Whiskey Lake is a more up-to-date design on the same 14-nanometer process, allowing for some hardware repairs.
Although the Specter and Meltdown shortcomings are not generally aimed at general consumers and, more specifically, companies with servers that host a lot of data, it is important that Intel discloses vulnerabilities for attacks and theft within their hardware, regardless. This is especially true in view of how far we really are of real immunity against these security errors.