Intel Issues First Corrected Firmware Fixes for CPU Security Flaws

Intel: Updates Will Make Chips "Immune" From New Security Vulnerabilities

In January, two major CPU vulnerabilities were disclosed. PC manufacturers, OS makers, and CPU manufacturers rushed to release patches for the vulnerabilities, called Meltdown and Spectre. Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, was one of the first firms to release patches for its processors.

Some patches from Intel for the security flaws, unfortunately, weren’t stable. The company started releasing patches for systems shortly after the vulnerabilities were disclosed, but it was later discovered that Intel’s patches were faulty. The patches reportedly resulted in unexpected reboots in some systems, forcing the company to pull the updates. By the time Intel pulled its buggy patches, Microsoft already released out-of-band patches for Windows that disables one of the patches from Intel.

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After much drama, Intel is today releasing corrected patches for the flaws. The updated patches — which, by the way, degrade the performance of older systems — have been under intense testing and development since mid-January. Intel has released updates for some Skylake-based systems to its OEM partners today, and it will continue to roll out updates to other systems in the coming days. “Ultimately, these updates will be made available in most cases through OEM firmware updates. I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is for everyone to always keep their systems up-to-date,” Intel’s CVP Navin Shenoy said in a blog post.

So far, Intel has not only struggled to deal with the initial backlash caused by the disclosure of the security flaws, the company has somehow managed to make things worse with the buggy patches.

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Conversation 11 comments

  • jimchamplin

    Premium Member
    08 February, 2018 - 9:15 am

    <p>Isn’t it convenient that the performance hit disproportionately affects older hardware?</p><p><br></p><p>Convenient for Intel and their OEM partners that is.</p>

    • wunderbar

      Premium Member
      08 February, 2018 - 9:38 am

      <blockquote><a href="#244176"><em>In reply to jimchamplin:</em></a></blockquote><p>No, in this case it's not actually a conspiracy theory. Intel has unrelated technology improvements in the recent generation of processors that made them more efficient that actually largely mitigates the performance impacts.</p>

    • evox81

      Premium Member
      08 February, 2018 - 10:17 am

      <blockquote><a href="#244176"><em>In reply to jimchamplin:</em></a></blockquote><p></p&gt;

      • wosully

        Premium Member
        09 February, 2018 - 5:02 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#244203"><em>In reply to evox81:</em></a><em>OH YES!</em></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • Stooks

    08 February, 2018 - 9:58 am

    <p>So we are supposed to trust these patches? No thanks.</p>

  • Vic116

    08 February, 2018 - 11:59 am

    <p>OEMs like Dell have pulled and re-released BIOS updates for Spectre (Variant 2) prior to this latest Intel release. For example, Dell re-posted a BIOS update on 2/8 for my XPS 8910 that was previously pulled so this latest Intel release could not have made it into that update. This latest Intel release appears to be new and not just a correction of what was released previously. </p>

  • Thomas Parkison

    08 February, 2018 - 12:47 pm

    <p>OK here's a really dumb question… If I build a new Intel system today and install this firmware update will I see the supposed performance penalty? Would I be better off waiting for the next series of Intel chips that has the fix baked into the silicon?</p>

    • Brad Sams

      Premium Member
      09 February, 2018 - 12:19 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#244252"><em>In reply to trparky:</em></a></blockquote><p>Yes you will see the impact, wait till next gen as that supposedly is not impacted.</p>

  • Siv

    12 February, 2018 - 6:10 pm

    <p>I think I will wait a few weeks before applying these based on Intel's recent track record!</p>

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