Intel’s Whiskey Lake CPUs include hardware fix for Meltdown, Amber Lake does not

intel whiskey lake has meldown fix amber does not

Intel introduced new eighth-generation processors slated for laptops this week: Ultra-low power 15-watt “Whiskey Lake” U-series chips and extremely low power five-watt “Amber Lake” Y-series chips. After the launch, AnandTech asked Intel if these two processor families include hardware fixes for Meltdown and Spectre. The response was … rather loaded.

Meltdown and the two Spectre vulnerabilities are based on how processors “predict” the path of their current task, leaving sensitive data vulnerable in memory. Intel, hardware, and OS vendors began implementing fixes on a firmware and software level in early 2018. Intel also said that hardware mitigations would be introduced in new processors by the end of the year, hence the question.

For starters, the explanation will get somewhat technical. Although Intel releases “generations” of chips, they never rely on one single-generation design. Thus, each generation typically comprises of a refresh of a previous design, an entirely new design, and various design branches with different code names. All of this can get confusing so we’ll try to be clear as possible if you want to push forward.

First, Intel is gearing up to release 14nm processors based on its new “Cascade Lake” CPU design targeting servers and enthusiasts. A successor to Intel’s sixth-generation “Skylake-X” and “Skylake-SP” designs for those markets, these chips were originally slated to be the first to include hardware-based mitigations for Meltdown, Spectre, and Foreshadow. These chips will fall under Intel’s eighth-generation banner.

Meanwhile, Intel’s new Whiskey Lake chips released this week are based on the company’s original seventh-generation “Kaby Lake” design but uses the newer 14nm++ process node technology. As previously stated, these chips target laptops, requiring around 15 watts of power. Despite the seventh-generation foundation, Whiskey Lake CPUs also fall under the eighth-generation banner.

According to Intel, notebook-bound Whiskey Lake shares the same hardware fix for Meltdown as seen with server-bound Cascade Lake. These two families also share a hardware fix for the recently-disclosed L1 Terminal Fault issue, aka Foreshadow. But unlike Cascade Lake, Intel’s Whisky Lake design doesn’t include hardware fixes for Spectre Variant 2. All other issues are handled through firmware and OS fixes.

As for the new Amber Lake chips released this week, they’re based on Intel’s seventh-generation Kaby Lake design using 14nm+ process node technology. “Amber Lake” is similar to the “Kaby Lake Refresh” design introduced in the first wave of eighth-generation chips in August 2017. That said, all problems are handled through firmware and OS fixes, and do not contain hardware-based mitigations.

As a refresher, here are the three new Whiskey Lake processors:

i7-8565U i5-8265U i3-8145U
Cores: 4 4 2
Threads: 8 8 4
Base speed: 1.8GHz 1.6GHz 2.1GHz
Max speed: 4.6GHz 3.9GHz 3.9GHz
Cache: 8MB 6MB 4MB
Memory support: LPDDR3 @ 2,133MHz
DDR4 @ 2,400MHz
LPDDR3 @ 2,133MHz
DDR4 @ 2,400MHz
LPDDR3 @ 2,133MHz
DDR4 @ 2,400MHz
Power: 15W 15W 15W

Now here are the three new Amber Lake chips:

i7-8500Y i5-8200Y m3-8100Y
Cores: 2 2 2
Threads: 4 4 4
Base speed: 1.5GHz 1.3GHz 1.1GHz
Max speed: 4.2GHz 3.9GHz 3.4GHz
Cache: 4MB 4MB 4MB
Memory support: LPDDR3 @ 2,133MHz
DDR4 @ 2,400MHz
LPDDR3 @ 2,133MHz
DDR4 @ 2,400MHz
LPDDR3 @ 2,133MHz
DDR4 @ 2,400MHz
Power: 5W 5W 5W
Movies & TV

Loki, Scarlet Witch, other Marvel characters to headline series on Disney Play

Loki, Scarlet Witch, and various other characters from Marvel's cinematic universe could be getting their own live-action series on Disney's streaming service when it launches in 2019. The actors from the movies will reprise their roles.
Mobile

OnePlus 6T may launch soon with in-display fingerprint sensor, dual cameras

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.
Deals

The best laptop deals for September 2018

Whether you're getting ready for a new school year, shopping for a special student, or just need a new computer, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going, from discounted MacBooks to an on-the-go gaming PC.
Movies & TV

Netflix shows off trailer for “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

Netflix has announced that it'll be home to the upcoming series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The series will be based on the current Archie Comics series, and focus on Sabrina's struggles as a young witch.
Computing

Tap Strap wearable keyboard gains support for VR applications

TAP System's wearable keyboard gains support for virtual reality, now compatible with Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, and HTV headsets. Type and tap for up to eight hours in VR without needing to look at a physical keyboard.
Computing

Wi-Fi vulnerability could allow attackers to steal your data on unencrypted sites

A 20-year-old security flaw in the design of the Wi-Fi standard and how computers communicate using the transmission control protocol could allow hackers to perform a web cache poisoning attack to steal your data and login information.
Product Review

The powerhouse Alienware 17 R5 will leave your desktop in the dust

With a 17-inch display and a chassis weighing in at nearly 10 pounds, the Alienware 17 R5 is truly massive. Between its weight and its hardware, it’s certainly outfitted like a gaming desktop so let’s find out if it performs like one.
Deals

Walmart takes $380 off the MacBook Air for a limited time

Walmart is offering a steep discount on the MacBook Air. Though the $380 discount is lovely, this offer comes with an extra charger to sweeten the deal. If you're looking to pick up an Apple MacBook for less, now is an excellent time.
Computing

PDF to JPG conversion is quick and easy using these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.
Computing

Documentation shows data recovery possible for Macs with T2 coprocessor

New documentation from Apple shows that data recovery is indeed possible for Macs with T2 Coprocessor thanks to internal diagnostics software, giving users of the 2018 MacBook Pro new hope in the event of a system failure.
Computing

Smart Reply not smart enough? Desktop Gmail users can soon opt out

Google will soon give desktop Gmail users the ability to opt out of Smart Reply. If you'd prefer to compose a short email the old-fashioned way, you can do so without seeing the auto-generated suggestions in the future.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with 12 of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.
Product Review

The HP Chromebook x2 takes Chrome to the next level

HP’s Chromebook x2 acts a lot like Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, with a well-equipped tablet that plugs into a keyboard base that’s heavy enough to keep the combination mostly stable. Is this premium Chromebook the best one you can buy?
Computing

Pain in the wrists? Type in comfort with one of these great ergonomic keyboards

Long typing sessions can leave anyone's wrists aching, but if you have one of the best ergonomic keyboards, that doesn't have to be the case. Our list of favorites will support good typing posture while being comfortable to use.