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Tuesday, 16 November 2010 18:05

Hacker claims to have cracked AMD chips

Written by Nick Farell

Not sure about this one
A hacker claims to have discovered a debugging mechanism within AMD CPUs which enables people to learn more about how exactly AMD's chips work, and reverse engineer them. [I'm gonna build one in my shed over the weekend. sub.ed.]

The hacker “Czerno” posted his findings here. He claims that AMD processors have included firmware-based debugging features that expand greatly over standard, architecturally defined capabilities of x86. “Czerno” does not know why, but claims AMD has been secretive about these features which we would have thought would have given them some advantage over Intel. He said that hint of their existence was gained by glancing at the list of undocumented machine specific registers (MSRs). He said that there are four new machine specific registers (MSR) that are involved in the expanded debug facilities.

All those MSRs are "password" protected against casual access: read/write access (RDMSR/WRMSR) to the registers is granted only if EDI holds the correct password value (9C5A203A), otherwise, a GPF exception occurs. All these registers default/reset values are zero. The registers may do something with built-in self test of microprocessors. However they could also be something to run the processor's microcode during development. However since “Czerno” has been a bit vague about it all it is not clear if any of it is true.

We wonder if our readers have views on it.
Last modified on Tuesday, 16 November 2010 18:08
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+23 #1 thomasg 2010-11-16 18:12
Sounds like jibberish to me, what exactly does this allow us to do?
+32 #2 Regenweald 2010-11-16 18:13
Well I'm not at the level where this would be of any use to me. So i'll wait and see. :lol:
+41 #3 nele 2010-11-16 19:23
Quoting thomasg:
Sounds like jibberish to me, what exactly does this allow us to do?

Nothing. But it allows the Chinese to make Athlon XP knockoffs. :-*
+10 #4 Bl0bb3r 2010-11-16 20:36
Actually, if GCC team would have access to this... and not only them... we might see killer AMD specific optimizations in compilers. It's one thing to get some optimizations from an AMD official and implement them and it's another thing to get your hands dirty and make your compiler work as you know its inner workins. Kinda like intel compiler works and it has all of these optimizations... bet intel has such a debug system as well.
+4 #5 yasin 2010-11-16 21:13
the link looks pretty dodgy to me.look at all the exclamation marks.looks a bit childish imo
+4 #6 Wolfdale 2010-11-16 23:00
on the other hand, the ability to reverse engineer amd cpu's might also bring a dangerous threat on virus attacks?
im not sure about how deep this goes, but i can imagine some evil genius writing a code that ruins your cpu? is that even possible with these build in functions?

it might also be part of the default setting amd sells a chip at?
like a phenom x3 thats actually a way faster one, and x4 on top thats simply locked down to 3x
i know you can use some bios fixes to do this, but who knows what those vague options can reveal if their actually true that is
-5 #7 guideX 2010-11-17 04:53
Looks like Intel leaked its internal memo's again. :D
+2 #8 GrumpyOldMan 2010-11-17 16:30
AMD as wells as Intel have product updates for their CPU's.

Most of us take it for granted and never do so. Probably because there is little need or choice of updates to microcode validation.

IFF this guy is correct, there might be an exploit for use in deep web.


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