Zhaoxin 7-Series x86 CPUs Mitigated For Spectre V2 + SWAPGS

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 16 January 2020 at 06:45 AM EST. 8 Comments
When it comes to the Zhaoxin x86-compatible processors coming out of VIA's joint venture in Shanghai, their forthcoming 7-series (KX-7000) has hardware mitigations in place for some CPU vulnerabilities.

We haven't heard much about these Chinese x86 CPUs with regards to speculative execution vulnerabilities but it appears the pre-7-Series is vulnerable to Spectre Variant Two and at least SWAPGS. But with their 7-series, hardware mitigations appear to be in place.

This patch by a Zhaoxin engineer from Wednesday confirms that the Family 7 processors are not affected by SWAPGS and thus whitelisted from software mitigations.

Additionally, a separate patch whitelists the new Zhaoxin CPUs from Spectre V2 mitigations.

These are the first whitelists we're seeing for any Zhaoxin CPUs within the Linux kernel when it comes to these CPU vulnerabilities.

The Zhaoxin 7-series are said to be 7nm x86 CPUs featuring DDR5 memory, PCI Express 4.0, and other improvements to make them more competitive against today's Intel and AMD CPUs. Having Spectre V2 + SWAPGS hardware mitigations in place would be another boost for its performance.

In other Zhaoxin/Centaur Linux CPU news, Intel recently reworked the KVM code within x86/cpu to allow those CPUs to make use of the Intel KVM driver code for virtualization. That code should be moving forward with Linux 5.6 along with these whitelist patches.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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