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Intel's Spectre BIOS Fix Causes Reboots On Broadwell, Haswell Systems

Intel has issued a statement confirming that BIOS patches for the Spectre vulnerability are causing reboots on Broadwell and Haswell systems.

The company wants us to know that it’s sticking to its recent commitment to put security first by confirming that it’s investigating an issue with the CPU microcode updates it issued to its hardware partners. These updates are being distributed to users’ systems as BIOS updates, which are just beginning to roll out.

Intel said that customers have reported “higher system reboots” after applying BIOS updates. So far, the issue only affects Broadwell (Core i3/5/7 5000 series on for mobile) and Haswell (Core i3/5/7 4000 series for desktop and mobile). Intel didn’t specifically say if Broadwell-E (Core i7 6000 series on desktop) are also affected. The issues have been reported in both data centers and regular user systems.

We are working quickly with these customers to understand, diagnose and address this reboot issue. If this requires a revised firmware update from Intel, we will distribute that update through the normal channels. We are also working directly with data center customers to discuss the issue.

Intel doesn’t recommend you ignore the BIOS updates from your system OEM, but you might want to wait for this to unfold if you’re using one of the affected CPUs. The BIOS fixes are used in conjunction with software fixes to mitigate Spectre Variant 2. If you have auto-updating turned on in your OS, then most likely you have already received the software side of the fix.

  • Yuka
    I've had my new laptop turned off for this very reason. I don't want Win10 to push any updates, to *anything* until I'm 100% sure there are no stupid side-effects that need working on.

    For all you people without a (real) choice, I pity you and wish you the best of luck.

    For BIOS upgrades, luckily we're not at the point where they are also mandatory and our of our control.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • vipervictorus
    I would like Intel to get in touch with me, but they probably won't support laptop users. I loaded their January 8, 2018 microcode update into my BIOS, and within 24 hours, my motherboard and processor are dead (Alienware 18, Haswell 4940MX CPU). I don't know if this was coincidental or not with the microcode, but I really would like Intel to get in touch with me. All other haswell users, be wary of the January 8, 2018 microcode.
    Reply
  • therealduckofdeath
    Intel will definitely not contact you from a random (trolley?) comment to a news post, "vipervictorus". I'm guessing you already know that too. Try, you know, a site owned by Intel.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    20587913 said:
    I've had my new laptop turned off for this very reason. I don't want Win10 to push any updates, to *anything* until I'm 100% sure there are no stupid side-effects that need working on.
    Every time I let Windows Update apply patches to my PC, it is an ordeal to get it to quit scheduling daily restarts so I've disabled Windows Updates entirely and run it manually once every few months. Probably going to hold on to updating until June to give all the most disruptive changes and new bugs arising from those changes a chance to get sorted out. I can't use my PC for serious work if I have to worry about my PC randomly rebooting or crashing multiple times a month.
    Reply
  • plateLunch
    Leon,
    Thanks for putting the Intel Series number (4000, etc) along with the product name (Haswell) in your article. I have a bunch of PCs here and that saved me a bunch of lookup time.
    Reply
  • thuck777
    Once again, the cure is worse than the disease. These updates should be AVOIDED. I have completely disabled all future updates via Windows Update on my older systems because of this crap.
    Reply
  • thuck777
    As previously stated, I am not willing to sacrifice the kind of performance noted for my Windows 7 laptop running a Sandy Bridge i7 CPU. That is stupid, especially given that there really is NO threat. Now that so many systems are going to be updated, there is little reason for any scumbags to try to exploit these vulnerabilities, IMO. From my perspective, the cure is far worse than the disease, especially on older hardware / OS combinations. It just is not worth it. So, I believe Microsoft should make a way to have these patches be OPTIONAL and AVOIDABLE and UNINSTALLABLE. This is crap!
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    20587913 said:
    I've had my new laptop turned off for this very reason. I don't want Win10 to push any updates, to *anything* until I'm 100% sure there are no stupid side-effects that need working on.

    For all you people without a (real) choice, I pity you and wish you the best of luck.

    For BIOS upgrades, luckily we're not at the point where they are also mandatory and our of our control.

    This particular problem is from a BIOS update, not from Windows 10.

    In regards to the software, most desktop users won't see any significant degradation of performance. The ones who might see more of a performance impact is the server people - specifically the ones who have heavy I/O workloads along with heavy network I/O. I imagine the ones who run heavily-used game servers, over-subscribed virtual hosts, big OLTP db svrs, and other similar workloads might be able to see more of an impact.
    Reply
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    20588523 said:
    As previously stated, I am not willing to sacrifice the kind of performance noted for my Windows 7 laptop running a Sandy Bridge i7 CPU. That is stupid, especially given that there really is NO threat. Now that so many systems are going to be updated, there is little reason for any scumbags to try to exploit these vulnerabilities, IMO. From my perspective, the cure is far worse than the disease, especially on older hardware / OS combinations. It just is not worth it. So, I believe Microsoft should make a way to have these patches be OPTIONAL and AVOIDABLE and UNINSTALLABLE. This is crap!

    If you think the problem is all Microsoft's fault, you have not read (or understood) much of the details about Meltdown/Spectre. You also don't really comprehend the potential for abuse here either.

    I recommend you read the excellent articles posted here on Tom's, Ars Technica, and even Anandtech.
    Reply
  • Yuka
    20588893 said:
    20587913 said:
    I've had my new laptop turned off for this very reason. I don't want Win10 to push any updates, to *anything* until I'm 100% sure there are no stupid side-effects that need working on.

    For all you people without a (real) choice, I pity you and wish you the best of luck.

    For BIOS upgrades, luckily we're not at the point where they are also mandatory and our of our control.

    This particular problem is from a BIOS update, not from Windows 10.

    In regards to the software, most desktop users won't see any significant degradation of performance. The ones who might see more of a performance impact is the server people - specifically the ones who have heavy I/O workloads along with heavy network I/O. I imagine the ones who run heavily-used game servers, over-subscribed virtual hosts, big OLTP db svrs, and other similar workloads might be able to see more of an impact.

    I can see you didn't read what I wrote, at all. I said "side effects" to the Win10 patches and I explicitly said that BIOS updates are still manual.
    Reply