Intel's Meltdown and Spectre patches are causing reboot issues in older chips

Intel's Meltdown and Spectre patches are causing reboot issues in older chips

While Shenoy has not clarified what systems are experiencing higher reboot rates, it could only be Linux systems for which Intel started rolling out CPU microcode updates yesterday.

Since the major processor-based Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities came to light earlier this month, technology companies have been working to develop and deploy patches across millions, if not billions, of devices.

In a confidential document shared with some of its customers, Intel said it has identified three issues in updates released over the past week.

As if dealing with Meltdown and Spectre wasn't enough of a mess already, Intel has revealed that its firmware updates are causing problems on some older PCs.

Sixth generation Skylake CPUs take the biggest hit from Intel and Microsoft's mitigations, especially in system responsiveness tests which are running at a 21% performance deficit from an unpatched system. "We are working quickly with these customers to understand, diagnose and address this reboot issue", Intel said. For customers anxious about the fixes disrupting their machines, Intel said it will provide more updates to the public about the patching process, including "performance data".

Intel is now looking into reports that some of its customers are experiencing reboots in systems that update to the latest firmware for Meltdown/Spectre mitigation. There are important roles for everyone: Timely adoption of software and firmware patches by consumers and system manufacturers is critical.

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We as an industry probably aren't willing to settle for slower processors that might be vulnerable unless there are proof of concept exploits available.

VMware has pledged to issue fixes at the hypervisor level, and cloud providers such as Google and Amazon say they've patched their VMs, but it's wise to patch the kernels, as well, Pereira said. "Internal policy and procedure changes, especially in how Intel communicates to partners and customers must change, and the public acknowledgement of that will serve as a guidepost for internal decisions to support that".

"No one should expect that just a container layer will mitigate the issue", said Fernando Montenegro, an analyst with 451 Research.

"The pledge is likely brand management more than a real thing that will markedly increase security".

As operating systems continue to become more locked down, researchers will spend time looking at the nuts and bolts of computers to find vulnerabilities, rather than holes in software like Windows or macOS.

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