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Intel: Meltdown, Spectre silicon fixes coming 2018; 3D XPoint RAM, not so much

As partial of Intel’s fourth entertain financials release, CEO Brian Krzanich betrothed that chips shipping this year would embody loyal hardware fixes for the Spectre and Meltdown attacks.

The guarantee to ship chips defence to the attack leaves many questions unanswered. It’s not transparent if the fixes will be revisions of stream era Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, and Skylake parts, or if the modifications will be compelled to the Cannon Lake processors that are approaching to ship this year. Nor is it transparent what form the fix will take: better, higher-performance versions of the microcode and workarounds already being rolled out, or deeper modifications to the processor’s suppositional execution and bend prophecy behavior.

The company’s behind transition to a 10nm prolongation routine also stays murky. At CES, Intel claimed that it had shipped some vague chips built on 10nm last year. The first half of this year will see low volume production, ramping to high volume in the second half. But accurately what processors—in what configurations, when, and in what volumes—remains unknown. Both Cannon Lake, built on the 10nm process, and Ice Lake, built on the polished “10nm+” process, are planned, but the company has pronounced little petrify about accurate timelines.

Krzanich also pronounced that DIMMs using 3D XPoint memory won’t have any income impact this year. 3D XPoint is a kind of plain state storage that in element blends the characteristics of RAM and peep memory. Like RAM, it’s addressable and writeable on a byte-at-a-time basement (in contrariety to flash, which can only be created and erased in vast blocks), but like flash, it’s persistent, requiring no energy to keep its value. Intel has a few 3D XPoint products on the marketplace already, configured as possibly PCIe or M.2 storage, but the company has been earnest to sell non-volatile DIMMs formed on the same technology. Processors could use these as if they were RAM—just RAM that binds its value when the energy is off. This is quite appealing for applications such as databases. It would allow, for example, high-performance in-memory databases that are determined opposite reboots but ever having to be created out to disk.


Existing 3D XPoint products have singular longevity—like flash, they reduce after any write cycle—and while it appears that Intel has addressed this to a acceptable border for storage, complement memory is much some-more demanding. It’s not transparent that all the technical problems have been solved.

3D XPoint DIMMs were approaching some time this year, but with the income guidance, it looks now like they won’t arrive until 2019 at the earliest.

Overall, Intel had a clever quarter, with income up eight percent to $17.1 billion, and for the full year, up 9 percent to $62.8 billion. At slightest for now, AMD’s newly rival products don’t seem to have a good understanding of impact; Intel’s information core income was up 10 percent last quarter, with normal selling prices rising eight percent. Desktop processors did decline—five percent volume, two percent selling price—but the company attributed this to the disappearing PC marketplace in ubiquitous rather than foe from AMD’s Ryzen and Threadripper products or Intel’s own shortages of Coffee Lake desktop chips. Going forward, the company says it isn’t awaiting any financial impact from Spectre or Meltdown, but the attacks do deliver new risks and so the opinion may change.

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