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Intel SMAP Comes To Try To Better Secure Linux

Intel

Published on 02 October 2012 10:40 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel
11 Comments

Intel SMAP support has landed in the mainline Linux kernel, which is a Supervisor Mode Access Prevention found on newer Intel CPUs.

The Supervisor Mode Access Prevention feature is an instruction set extension whereby the kernel cannot access pages that are user-space. However, when the need comes about for the kernel to access a user-space page, an override is available. This work from Intel was originally published last month and has now been merged into the mainline kernel for Linux 3.7.

Basically SMAP comes down to a hardware feature preventing unintended user-space data access from kernel code. SMAP works alongside SMEP (Supervisor Mode Execution Protection) to try to prevent kernel bugs from being exploited. Intel SMAP is turned on by default for supported hardware. The kernel config option for SMAP does mention though, "There is a small performance cost if this enabled and turned on; there is also a small increase in the kernel size if this is enabled."

The merge of SMAP for Linux 3.7 happened with this commit.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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