Intel says it won't patch older chips for Spectre

05 April, 2018, 01:41 | Author: Larry Hoffman
  • MSI GS65

Intel's months-long marathon of releasing CPU microcode patches to protect against critical Meltdown and Spectre exploits is ending, but some older processors that were promised firmware updates won't be receiving them.

In its Microcode Update Guidance, Intel says that it has changed the status of the affected chips to "stopped" for a few reasons. It was last March that Intel had launched Optane memory and it is the first big push to get people to use it.

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As outlined in the guidance, production of patches has been halted for the following CPU families: Bloomfield, Bloomfield Xeon, Clarksfield, Gulftown, Harpertown Xeon C0, Harpertown Xeon E0, Jasper Forest, Penryn/QC, SoFIA 3GR, Wolfdale C0, M0, Wolfdale E0, R0, Wolfdale Xeon C0, Wolfdale Xeon E0, Yorkfield and Yorkfield Xeon.

The reasoning for not patching the vulnerability were claimed to include microarchitectural characteristics that preclude a practical implementation of features mitigating Variant 2; limited Commercially Available System Software support; and based on customer inputs, most of these products are implemented as "closed systems" and therefore are expected to have a lower likelihood of exposure to these vulnerabilities. Intel, it seems, can't figure out how to fix its entire product portfolio and is instead recommending users upgrade their processor if they want protection.

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Intel didn't specify which reasons apply to which chips.

The fact that the chips not being patched are old is also said to be key to Intel's thinking, since it's unlikely the affected chips are used in high-security environments. Built on the Coffee Lake platform using the 14nm++ process, Intel promises the new processors can edit 4K video up to 59 percent faster than the seventh generation chips with the same discrete graphics, which should be great news for video editors, especially as 4K continues to become the new standard.

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