AMD Confirms Its Processors Aren't Impacted by Spoiler Vulnerability

(Image credit: AMD)

Last year the discovery of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities shook the tech world and caused a flurry of security-related anxieties. Earlier this month, researchers discovered another vulnerability similar to Spectre, named "Spoiler," in Intel CPUs.

Just like the Spectre vulnerability, Spoiler exploits the CPU's speculative execution engine that allows the processor to guess future operations to increase performance. However, malicious entities can exploit the process to access information in the CPU cache, such as passwords.

Unlike Spectre, researchers noted they weren't able to exploit AMD's processors, making Spoiler a totally unique problem to Intel. The Spoiler exploit is present specifically within Intel's Core CPUs, which include the original Core 2 Duo CPUs all the way up to Intel's most recent Coffee Lake, Kaby Lake, and Skylake CPUs, as well as future Cascade Lake and Ice Lake products. While Spoiler is similar to Spectre, it is a separate issue, making patches for Spectre ineffective against Spoiler exploits.

Today AMD responded to news of the Spoiler vulnerability by confirming that its processors are not vulnerable to the exploit, saying:

We are aware of the report of a new security exploit called SPOILER which can gain access to partial address information during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because of our unique processor architecture. The SPOILER exploit can gain access to partial address information above address bit 11 during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because AMD processors do not use partial address matches above address bit 11 when resolving load conflicts.

Fortunately for AMD, this means the company will not have to push out patches to protect against Spoiler, which would have likely resulted in "losing tremendous performance" according to one of the researchers who helped discover Spoiler. This is unfortunate for Intel, though, which has already suffered performance regressions with the Spectre and Meltdown patches. While AMD has patched out at least some forms of Spectre on its Zen 2 architecture, Intel will have to revisit its designs for future architectures yet again to ensure they will not be vulnerable to Spoiler.

Matthew Connatser

Matthew Connatser is a freelancing writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes articles about CPUs, GPUs, SSDs, and computers in general.