Cloud News News

Nvidia, IBM release security patches to mitigate Meltdown and Spectre. Intel customers looking for substitutes 

Nvidia is latest in the list to provide security updates to mitigate the impact of Meltdown and Spectre. Though Nvidia claimed that their core business is GPU computing, and Nvidia GPUs are safe from the malicious actors.

At Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018 in Las Vegas, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang illustrated how the technology leaders are scrambling to find patches to the Spectre and Meltdown attacks. These attacks enable the hackers to steal private information of users from the CPUs having processors from Intel, AMD, and ARM.

“We believe our GPU hardware is immune to the reported security issue. As for our driver software, we are providing updates to help mitigate the CPU security issue,” Nvidia wrote in their security bulletin.

So, Nvidia has released updates for its software drivers that interact with vulnerable CPUs and operating systems.

The vulnerabilities take place in three variants- Variant 1, Variant 2, and Variant 3. Nvidia has released driver updates for Variant 1 and Variant 2. The company said none of its software is vulnerable to Variant 3.

Nvidia has provided security updates for these products- GeForce, Quadro, NVS Driver Software, Tesla Driver Software, and GRID Driver Software.

IBM had made no comments whether their systems were affected or not by these attacks. But Red Hat last week reported that IBM’s System Z, and POWER platforms are exploited by Spectre and Meltdown.

To that, IBM responded and released firmware patches for Power7+ and Power8 platforms. Patches for Power9 processors will be available by January 15, while AIX and IBM i operating system patches will be available by February 12.

The tech giants are issuing security updates to fix Spectre and Meltdown, but these security updates are reportedly impacting the performance of computers and servers.

Intel’s 8th Generation Core platforms with solid state storage are still seeing performance impact of around 6%. This seems to have upset the customers, and they are looking for substitutes to Intel chips.

The substitutes can be AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) which works with Intel for x86 processors. The companies like Backblaze, the data storage provider, have already indicated that building with AMD won’t be difficult.

Rubbing salt in Intel’s wound, the CEO of leading cloud computing provider Infinity Virtual, said in an interview that if Intel doesn’t make things right, his company will no longer purchase their products.

Also read: Intel creates new cybersecurity group addressing Meltdown and Spectre attacks

“If ARM provides enough computing power at lower cost or lower power than x86, it would be a strong incentive for us to switch,” said Gleb Budman, CEO, Backblaze. “If the fix for x86 results in a dramatically decreased level of performance, that might increasingly push in favor of switching to ARM.”

Datacenter News

Nvidia prohibits datacenter deployment of GeForce GPUs 

Nvidia recently made a big change to the licensing agreement of its GeForce software which doesn’t allow users to deploy GeForce GPUs and Titan GPUs in data centers. Certainly, the users aren’t happy about it. 

Graphical User Interfaces (GPUs), being a common choice for artificial intelligence researchers, has helped Nvidia to surge 85% in its stock price in 2017.  

The customers aren’t happy about the changes to End-User Licensing Agreement (EULA) because it doesn’t allow them to deploy the GeForce and Titan based graphic cards in the data centers provided by other service providers including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.  

Here is the statement from the EULA- “No Datacenter Deployment. The SOFTWARE is not licensed for datacenter deployment, except that blockchain processing in a datacenter is permitted.” 

The changes are forcing users to go for expensive Tesla GPUs inside data centers, instead of lower-cost processors. The new Tesla V100 costs around $8000 while the Titan V starts at only $3000. 

To defend itself, Nvidia said that it made changes to EULA to prevent the potential misuse of its GeForce and Titan GPUs which were not built for demanding, and large-scale enterprise environments.  

“NVIDIA addresses the unique mechanical, physical, management, functional, reliability, and availability needs of servers with our Tesla products, which include a three-year warranty covering data center workloads, NVIDIA enterprise support, guaranteed continuity of supply and extended SKU life expectancy for data center components. This has been communicated to the market since the Tesla products were first released,” said Nvidia in statement to CNBC. 

Also read: Nvidia is ending driver support for 32-bit operating systems 

With this change in EULA, many leading companies using GeForce were affected, but Nvidia looks unmoved, and doesn’t seem to change its policy any sooner.