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AMD AGESA firmware concern?

AGESA is the set of binaries used by most AMD systems. Similar, in concept, to Intel’s FSP.

3mdeb points out that the AGESA docs seem to indicate that unbalanced allocation/free of some AGESA resources could have a negative system impact:

The creation and removal of the structure storage depends upon the host environment calling procedure using the AmdCreateStruct and AmdReleaseStruct procedures. Failure to release a structure can cause undesired outcomes.

AGESA – AMD Support & Drivers
https://support.amd.com/TechDocs/44065_Arch2008.pdf

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AGESA update info from AMD

[…]Beginning this month, as we promised to you, we began beta testing a new AGESA (v1.0.0.6) that is largely focused on aiding the stability of overclocked DRAM (>DDR4-2667). We are now at the point where that testing can begin transitioning into release candidate and/or production BIOSes for you to download. Depending on the QA/testing practices of your motherboard vendor, full BIOSes based on this code could be available for your motherboard starting in mid to late June. Some customers may already be in luck, however, as there are motherboards—like my Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming5 and ASUS Crosshair VI—that already have public betas.
[…]
If you’re the kind of user that just needs (or loves!) virtualization every day, then AGESA 1.0.0.6-based firmware will be a blessing for you thanks to fresh support for PCI Express Access Control Services (ACS). ACS primarily enables support for manual assignment of PCIe graphics cards within logical containers called “IOMMU groups.” The hardware resources of an IOMMU group can then be dedicated to a virtual machine. This capability is especially useful for users that want 3D-accelerated graphics inside a virtual machine. With ACS support, it is possible to split a 2-GPU system such that a host Linux® OS and a Windows VM both have a dedicated graphics cards. The virtual machine can access all the capabilities of the dedicated GPU, and run games inside the virtual machine at near-native performance.[…]

https://community.amd.com/community/gaming/blog/2017/05/25/community-update-4-lets-talk-dram

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/amd-agesa-firmware-update-motherboard,34525.html

 

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AMD on AGESA updates for Ryzen

AMD has a blog post on the Ryzen, and it talks about AGESA updates!

[…]Let’s talk BIOS updates:
Finally, we wanted to share with you our most recent work on the AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture for AMD Ryzen™ processors. We call it the AGESA™ for short. As a brief primer, the AGESA is responsible for initializing AMD x86-64 processors during boot time, acting as something of a “nucleus” for the BIOS updates you receive for your motherboard. Motherboard vendors take the baseline capabilities of our AGESA releases and build on that infrastructure to create the files you download and flash. We will soon be distributing AGESA point release 1.0.0.4 to our motherboard partners. We expect BIOSes based on this AGESA to start hitting the public in early April, though specific dates will depend on the schedules and QA practices of your motherboard vendor. BIOSes based on this new code will have four important improvements for you:
* We have reduced DRAM latency by approximately 6ns. This can result in higher performance for latency-sensitive applications.
* We resolved a condition where an unusual FMA3 code sequence could cause a system hang.
* We resolved the “overclock sleep bug” where an incorrect CPU frequency could be reported after resuming from S3 sleep.
* AMD Ryzen™ Master no longer requires the High-Precision Event Timer (HPET).

We will continue to update you on future AGESA releases when they’re complete, and we’re already working hard to bring you a May release that focuses on overclocked DDR4 memory.[…]

https://community.amd.com/community/gaming/blog/2017/03/30/amd-ryzen-community-update-2

 

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AMD updated AGESA?

There are news reports that AMD AGESA has been updated. AMD has a developer section on their web site, but I wish they included a section with news on AGESA, like Intel FSP site does.

https://www.dvhardware.net/article66244.html
https://www.bit-tech.net/news/hardware/2017/03/21/amd-ryzen-fma3-fix-promise/1
https://www.overclock3d.net/news/cpu_mainboard/amd_has_reportedly_released_new_agesa_microcode_for_ryzen/1
https://www.hardocp.com/news/2017/03/20/new_amd_agesa_microcode_in_wild_uefi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGESA

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Nikolaj on AMD AGESA/PSP

Nikolaj Schlej made a comment on the recent Snowden/AMD thread. The comment is on Twitter, so it is in multiple messages. I hope that AMD proves him wrong, AMD can change course, so can Intel, if they choose.

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Users ask firmware vendors for open source option

Vendors, your compiled code is an firmware attack vector, and makes it harder to trust your product. Secure Boot and signed images are not silver bullets. If you made golden images available, as per NIST 147, we could at least tell if your blobs have changed. But trusting blobs is not enough, there’s enough HW/FW vulnerabilities, and opportunities for attackers to subvert the supply chain. Only open source firmware will solve the firmware blob security problem. Intel has FSP, AMD has AGESA. All IBVs ship closed-source products, no open source vendors, and OEMs/IHVs ship closed-source drivers. Giving us an open source option would solve this problem. IBM claims the OpenPOWER is blob-free, but I’ve yet to verify this. RISC-V is also an ISA that also may be blob-free at the firmware level, depending on the manufacturer. Both OpenPOWER and RISC-V may offer some alternatives to current processors, if they wish to keep with status quo. I hope to see more security standards require the option to build firmware from source, and user ability to reinstall from their own locally-compiled version. And at least requiring that vendors ship hashes for all the blobs they ship.

 

Dear AMD, could you please release the Platform Security Processor (PSP) source code to the Coreboot / Libreboot project? (or publicly)
[…]
Thanks for the inquiry. Currently we do not have plans to release source code but you make a good argument for reasons to do so. We will evaluate and find a way to work with security vendors and the community to everyone’s benefit.
–AMD_jamesProduct Manager 487 points 4 hours ago 

https://www.coreboot.org/Binary_situation https://libreboot.org/faq/#amd

 

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Schneier: avoid Intel/AMD hardware, Intel ME, and UEFI

[[UPDATE: See comment from one reader, I mistakingly took below quote to be from Bruce, where it is apparently from someone else. Oops.]]

Bruce Schneier has a new blog post on citizen cybersecurity, including advice for non-US citizens to avoid blobs in firmware.

I hope Intel and AMD are reading this. Are the patents in the IP you’re protecting in your FSP and AGESA binaries really worth the security risks you’re enabling for attackers to all of your systems? Open-sourcing your blobs will reduce this attack vector and make your products more trustworthy, and reduce the potential market loss to RISC-V and OpenPOWER, which by contrast to Intel/AMD have blob-free firmware potential.  In addition to criminal use by cybercriminals, backdoors can be “legally” misused by tyrants, bigly. Hidden backdoor management processes like Intel ME should be owner-controllable, including the ability to remove/disable it. How can I use NIST 147 guidance to check the hashes of the hundreds of blobs within the FSP/AGESA packages? The are numerous supply-chain opportunities for firmware attackers to subvert these blobs, at the IHV, OEM, ODM, IBV, some of which also have source access to these packages and modify them (for example Purism modifies FSP for their laptops, but they can’t publish their code, due to Intel NDA).

New Rules on Data Privacy for Non-US Citizens”
[…]
“- build firewalls everywhere, if possible based on non-Intel, non-AMD too, hardware platforms or at least supporting old, non-Intel ME and non-UEFI, firmware;”

I

https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/01/new_rules_on_da.html

 

See-also:

https://firmwaresecurity.com/2015/12/23/itls-stateless-laptop-proposal/

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