Meltdown and Spectre – And Not Buying Computers

I have never been in this position in my life. I have been an avid computer user since my family’s first 4.77 MHz 8088 PC circa 1986. This is the first time I’ve ever actively recommended people not buy a computer. The reason is that this is the first time all major microprocessors on the market have serious flaws that I believe should be resolved before purchasing. And that’s not the only issue.


It is interesting how almost all coverage refers to “Spectre and Meltdown” instead of “Meltdown and Spectre”. Meltdown is by far the more serious vulnerability and it affects all Intel microprocessors on the market and most Intel microprocessors produced since 2011 (possibly many from as early as 1995). Mitigations to this attack will likely reduce computer performance. This is not the end of the world but it is understandable that customers would be troubled both by the possibility of undetectable security failures and by the loss of performance to correct security. However, if this was all there was to the story I’d probably tell people to wait until the patches are in place and then resume buying. But I can’t.

The CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, after learning of these vulnerabilities immediately sold as much stock in the company as he could. That is insider trading. Given months to come up with a solution the company failed. Once the vulnerabilities were revealed Intel actively downplayed the significance of the vulnerabilities and engaged in a campaigned of misinformation to the public. This is a corporate culture that I cannot support. I hope Intel is able to find a path back to integrity, but I will not hold by breath. And I will not support a company with such an unethical business culture.


This should have been great news for AMD. Their microprocessors are not affected by Meltdown. However there have been reports of system instability for certain tasks on AMD microprocessors. This information has been difficult to pin down and it has been reported that the problem is fixed and that if a person encounters the problem that AMD will replace the chip with one that is unaffected. This is a good stance for a business to take. I suspect an AMD Ryzen system may be my next computer purchase.

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