TE17: The Low Down on The Meltdown

Yesterday Brantley Coile, CEO of Coraid and the original developer of NAT (Network Address Translation) joined me to discuss the Intel Meltdown vulnerability, and how we got here. Last Friday Brantley authored a Linkedin Blog entry titled “Intel Flubs Again.”

Below are some of the topics we discussed for this podcast:

  • How we met over a decade ago, and the Plan9 OS, not the movie.
  • Network Address Translation, and how he and a partner invented it, Private Internet eXchange (Cisco PIX)
  • Brantley invented the first: stateful inspection firewall, VPN, and load balancer (Cisco Director).
  • How we’re stuck with Intel’s complex processor architecture.
  • Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC) versus Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC).
  • The graveyard of architectures MIPS, Itanium, and i960 (we didn’t mention SPARC, PA, Alpha).
  • The evolution from the IBM 360/370 to the IBM 801 (ROMP), Power, and how RISC and CISC meet up.
  • How compilers hide architecture from developers.
  • Complex architectures inevitably lead to high likelihoods for vulnerabilities.
  • A simplified description of what Meltdown really is.
  • Pipelining and speculative execution.
  • The Low Down on the Meltdown, and how it exposes memory during the speculative phase, and how it recovers the contents of that memory post speculation.
  • What can Intel do, and how will it hurt performance?
  • This creates an opportunity for ARM.
  • What Mom needs to do to protect herself today from Meltdown.
  • and more…

Interested in learning more about Solarflare’s Meltdown Prevention Program?
Please send an email to sschweitzer@solarflare.com