AMD has confirmed in a document that an optimization of the microarchitecture of Zen 3 processors can be exploited by hackers in the same way as the Specter vulnerabilities that plagued many processors a few years ago. 3 years ago, many Intel processors suffered from the Specter security hole which worried security experts. Intel was ultimately not the only one affected, as AMD processors were ultimately affected as well.
Today, AMD’s Ryzen 5000 processors using the Zen 3 architecture suffer from a security flaw similar to Specter, as AMD details in a document. We thought that this kind of problem was not going to happen again, since the manufacturers had taken steps on the new generations to avoid them.
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Ryzen 5000 Performance Could Be Affected With Fixes
With Zen 3, AMD introduced a new technology called Predictive Store Forwarding (PSF). It is a microarchitectural, hardware-based optimization designed to improve code execution performance by predicting the interactions between loads and saves. In the majority of cases, PSF’s predictions are correct. However, there is always a slim chance that the prediction will not be exact, which will cause exploitable vulnerabilities to be created.
Simply put, implementing Predictive Store Forwarding (PSF) once again leads to Specter v1, v2, and v4 vulnerabilities, which would leave hackers with opportunities to attack your machine. So far, the chipmaker has not detected any such attack, and says the risk is low for most applications.
It is possible to disable this optimization with a series of Linux fixes released by the manufacturer, but doing so will result in a drop in performance which AMD says is not worth it. According to our colleagues at Phoronix, the impact on performance would be minimal, since it would be in the order of only 1% penalty. While AMD has touted the Ryzen 5000s as the best processors in the world, this isn’t the first time the Zen 3 generation has been at the heart of the controversy. Indeed, we know that many chips would be faulty when they left the factory.
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