Here’s what we know so far: An initial article at LWN.Net lays out a new set of patches for the Linux kernel that began in late October and have continued through the present day.
Rowhammer can be used to change the data stored in certain memory locations by “hammering” adjacent rows of DRAM until the electrical charge in the target cells flips.
The blog Python Sweetness has published a fairly good discussion of what we know and don’t know about this security issue, though the author of the post also links to an erroneous report suggesting that AMD CPUs take a 50 percent performance hit when the software solution for the fix is enabled (AMD CPUs, as of this writing, are not expected to need patching).
The solution to the problem is to enable a capability known as page table isolation (PTI), but this apparently causes significant performance degradation in some Intel CPUs running some workloads.
There are implications for cloud vendors and developers across the entire spectrum where ARM and x86 are deployed, but until we know more about the Security Flaw and at-risk systems, we’d counsel against any quick conclusions.
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