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Computers

AMD: Yes, Spectre does affect our processors

The chipmaker first said there would be "near zero" impact on its chips from one variant of a flaw that makes sensitive information vulnerable.

An AMD FX-8320e PC CPU on a blue gradient background.

An AMD FX-8320e PC CPU. Chips made by AMD are susceptible to the Spectre flaw, the company made clear on Thursday.

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Is it or isn't it? There was some confusion when news first hit last week that researchers had found serious flaws, called Spectre and Meltdown, in many of the chips that power computers and phones. Yes, chips from Intel and Arm were affected, but what about chips from AMD? 

AMD on Thursday put out a new statement that left no room for doubt. Each of the two variants of the design flaw called Spectre "is applicable to AMD processors," the company's chief technology officer, Mark Papermaster, said in the statement. 

That helps clear up uncertainty that arose in the aftermath of the revelations that central processing units were susceptible to attacks that could reveal sensitive information -- like passwords and encryption keys -- that should be locked down. The flaws affect hundreds of millions of processors, which power everything from computers and phones to the servers used in cloud services. The Meltdown flaw only affects chips made by Intel.

The confusion is understandable, since AMD's initial statement last week said, in part, that "AMD is not susceptible to all three variants." In other words, some of AMD's chips are vulnerable to two flaws -- just not all three.  

Papermaster said AMD believes the threat from Spectre Variant 1 "can be contained with an operating system (OS) patch and we have been working with OS providers to address this issue." The company additionally expects to offer "a combination of processor microcode updates and OS patches" to address Spectre Variant 2, he said. 

"While we believe that AMD's processor architectures make it difficult to exploit Variant 2, we continue to work closely with the industry on this threat," AMD's CTO said.