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Linux kernel gets an AMD Zenbleed fix for the Steam Deck APU

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One security issue I somehow missed back in July was Zenbleed, an issue with AMD CPUs that's getting patched up in the Linux kernel and now the Steam Deck is getting a kernel fix for it too.

Turns out the original code in the Linux kernel somehow missed the Steam Deck, so now it's being pulled in urgently to ensure it's also protected as per the patch:

Commit 522b1d69219d ("x86/cpu/amd: Add a Zenbleed fix") provided a fix for the Zen2 VZEROUPPER data corruption bug affecting a range of CPU models, but the AMD Custom APU 0405 found on SteamDeck was not listed, although it is clearly affected by the vulnerability.

Add this CPU variant to the Zenbleed erratum list, in order to unconditionally enable the fallback fix until a proper microcode update is available.

So we may see a SteamOS upgrade come in at some point, if Valve chooses to patch it.

I'm sure some people will argue against it as these fixes can come with performance penalties, because the Steam Deck is primarily a gaming device. But still, it has a full desktop mode it's not a traditional locked down console, you can install a browser and do basically anything with it - better to be safe than sorry. The Steam Deck is really just a handheld Linux PC.

More info on Zenbleed here.

If you're on desktop, as always it's a good idea to ensure you regularly check for updates to patch up issues like this. Much like we recently had for Downfall and Inception.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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Chuckaluphagus Aug 14, 2023
Is there anywhere that discusses the performance effect of the patch?
doragasu Aug 14, 2023
Devices should be secure by default. If someone does not want the patch, it's just a PC, so sure someone will find a way to allow you disabling it (maybe another option to Cryo Utilities or something in the line).
pageround Aug 14, 2023
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If it connects to the internet, its better to be safe than sorry. I'll accept the performance hit. Will be interested to see the magnitude.
TheRiddick Aug 15, 2023
Quoting: pageroundIf it connects to the internet, its better to be safe than sorry. I'll accept the performance hit. Will be interested to see the magnitude.

Depends on the risk. A lot of these need direct access to the hardware or specific server access.
If you enable all mitigations the hit in game performance will be quite noticeable. Where does it end? when the PC is spending 90% of its resources on security patching...

The risks are at the USERS fault in most cases.
turol Aug 15, 2023
Unlike most of the other speculation security issues Zenbleed is also a correctness issue. It can result in wrong SIMD register contents in some rare cases. Therefore this mitigation can't be disabled.
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