While the likes of Microsoft, Apple and other well known brands get most of the attention in the tech press, there's one company that has been there all the way since the birth of personal computing. Intel's processors and memory chips have been a foundational part of the world we live in for decades. But with many companies now entering the silicon business, Intel's market dominance is reducing.
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It's been over 15 months since the Spectre and Meltdown processor vulnerabilities were revealed to software and hardware makers and close to a year since they were made known to the wider public. The weaknesses, which allow malware to potentially access data from within a wide variety of CPUs, might not have caused computing armageddon but researchers are finding new flaws in processors affected by these issues.
In her 13 years at Intel, Sandra Lopez has overseen the company’s brand repositioning, built new organisations in the company, and applied her background in fashion — inside Intel’s sports group. She’s been named one of the 50 most powerful women in tech by the National Diversity Council and one of Latina Style’s top 10 Latina executives of the year, and she’s spoken to NBC News on the Silicon Valley boys club.
We talked to her about the surprising ways her background has played into her tech career, and how to responsibly manage a team.
ARM, after strongly hinting at a move into the notebook market with its "laptop class" Cortex-A76 CPU, has this week released a roadmap detailing how it plans to take on the likes on Intel and AMD, with two new, high-performance chips — 7nm and 5nm respectively — slated for 2019 and 2020.
Small form factor PCs have traditionally been a story of compromise. In order to fit a full PC into a case the size of a book, they've had to cut back on processing power, storage, and ports for connecting to peripherals. But the advent of fast SSDs, and smaller but powerful processors that don't generate massive levels of heat have changed the equation significantly. Intel has been one of the leaders with their NUC (Next Unit of Computing) range of PCs. The NUC VR Machine is a system that will meet the needs of almost any computer user.
If you've been trying to install the April Update to Windows 10 and have hit a road block there may be a good reason. Microsoft has stopped the software from installing to computers running Avast Antivirus after some people experienced a blank desktop with no icons. This follows issues with installations on Intel and Toshiba SSDs which Microsoft has issued a patch for.
Intel has announced that another flaw in their processor architecture has been identified. Dubbed "Variant 4", the Speculative Store Bypass may allow unauthorised disclosure of information by allowing memory to be read without appropriate permissions. The flaw was reported to Intel by researchers from Google's Project Zero and the Microsoft Security Response Center.
Intel has issued a statement saying several processor families will not be patched to overcome Variant 2 of the Spectre bug that was detected mid last year and made public just before Christmas. While the processor company has patched many of their processors, the road has been quite bumpy with some of the fixes making systems unstable resulting in spontaneous reboots. But now, it seems some of the CPUs that were going to patched have been thrown into the too hard basket.
Apple has never been scared to break with the past in order to move ahead. When they moved from Mac OS 9 to OS X/macOS, they offered some backwards compatibility but terminated that once they figured users had enough time to update. They did the same when they shifted from the Power PC platform to Intel processors in 2005, providing Rosetta as a way for older PowerPC apps to run on the new processors. And if reports are correct, we can expect another transition as Apple moves from Intel to their own processor platform.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) is about to launch in Barcelona and Intel intends to make a big splash. Having largely missed the boat when it comes to the smartphone and tablet markets, they are working with a number of OEMs to create portable computers are equipped with integrated 5G comms. At MWC, they'll be showing off a concept device, equipped with an early 5G modem and powered by 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processors.
Uninstalling an update that addresses a security vulnerability like Spectre or Meltdown sounds like a bad idea. But if the alternative is a PC that constantly crashes, you might be happy to take the small risk in exchange for stability. For Windows users, Microsoft now offers a patch that reverses Intel's microcode fix, but you won't find it via Windows Update.
Linux progenitor Linus Torvalds has already shared his feelings regarding the bungles of Spectre and Meltdown. They weren't happy ones. Now that patches are available, Torvalds is even less impressed, describing Intel's effort as "complete and utter garbage".
Worried about protecting yourself from the security exploit that is Spectre? Well if you already downloaded Intel's update patching the flaw, be prepared to download another one soon. Intel's software fix is the cause of some random rebooting issues users are running into, and the company is urging consumers and manufacturers to hold off on distributing the current update until the update is, uh, updated.
If the last week has led you to be wary of having an Intel CPU powering your PC then you might want to get excited, because it seems like AMD might have started actually making CPUs you'd want instead of having Intel inside.
After more than three decades as the leader in desktop and laptop processors, Intel's reputation is in big trouble. Following on the heels of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, F-Secure has revealed a new flaw that allows a hacker to bypass the need to enter credentials, including BIOS and Bitlocker passwords and TPM (Trusted Platform Module) PINs.
It affects most, if not all laptops that support Intel Management Engine/Intel AMT. Here's what you need to know.
Intel has been working with the industry to develop and distribute software and firmware mitigations for Spectre and Meltdown. The company says that although they don't have information that these exploits have been used to obtain customer data, they now have additional data on the impact on some client platforms.