Skip to main content

Intel Testing Fix To Spectre Reboot Issue

Intel announced that it has made progress in correcting the issue causing random reboots in the fix for the Spectre vulnerability that it issued to hardware partners earlier.

The news from Intel that the CPU microcode update, which it issued to patch the Spectre vulnerability, was inducing random system reboots just made the Meltdown/Spectre issue go from bad to worse. Intel first announced that the issue affected Haswell and Broadwell systems, but later expanded the list to include Kaby Lake, Skylake, Ivy Bridge, and Sandy Bridge. The issue was discovered after a huge amount of hardware partners had already issued the fix to their customers, leaving some stuck with the issue.

At the issue’s outbreak, Intel advised hardware partners to stop issuing updates for unpatched devices, but not to recall the updates they had already issued. Intel’s reasoning for this was that they still provided protection against the Spectre variant 2 vulnerability.

Intel says that it has root-caused the issue on Haswell and Broadwell systems and that it has already issued a version of the fix to hardware partners, which are currently testing it. Intel’s official advisory to hardware partners hasn't changed: Don’t issue anymore of the bugged update and start testing the new one. However, Intel says it is also working to create a new version of its original update that removes Spectre variant 2-related fixes, but maintains Spectre variant 1 and Meltdown fixes. This new update will be made available for the interim period.

The announcement of the alternative update doesn’t inspire confidence that this reboot issue will be fixed shortly. It may be that Haswell and Broadwell fixes will arrive soon, but that the other processors will take longer to fix. It might also mean, though, that Intel’s doesn’t expect any fix to hit customers in short order. Intel’s only said that more details for regarding when the Haswell/Broadwell fix would arriving later this week.

The nature of the reboots, as well as what Intel’s original fix patched specifically, was always unclear, but the alternative fix brings even more confusion. First of all, while the original announcement only made reference to reboots (not crashes), the new announcement also mentions “other unpredictable system behavior.” Second, we now know that Intel’s fix does include changes for all three Meltdown/Spectre vulnerabilities. We had previously understood that Spectre variant 1 and Meltdown were fixed by software changes, but Intel might have made additional changes to optimize the performance impact.

We’ve contacted Intel to clarify what “other unpredictable system behavior” is caused by the original fix.

  • nitrium
    This whole cluster**** isn't exactly instilling a lot of confidence that Intel really know's what it's doing imo.
    Reply
  • Sam Hain
    Safe to say, it's not a good time to DIY-build, upgrade (at least CPU) or purchase a pre-built rig, until either the "all-clear" or next gen CPU's that are not affected roll out?
    Reply
  • phobicsq
    A continuation of a Charlie Foxtrot that should have never happened.
    Reply
  • Kennyy Evony
    where will not be any immune systems made for the next few years. so sit back and relax there will most likely be no new builds for foreseeable future.
    Reply
  • Toieo
    I really hope the next generation or two worth of components aren't too far along in their development cycle that this is still an issue :/
    Reply
  • wownwow
    Intel Inside = Patch-Buffet Inside, an unlimited time offer for lifetime enjoyment :-D

    According to the Intel CPU design, the White House (Kernel) need to relocated for the security issue (Meltdown)!

    According to Intel CEO, relocating the White House is the intended design!

    It's so amazing that the company can continue selling the INTENDED faulty CPU chips designed basing on the specifications with the INTENDED flaw of not checking and not correctly handling the privilege levels, amazing!
    Reply
  • enzoozzytiger
    My Dell desktop with i3-4170 + Win10 crashed during the weekend. Dell's BIOS tried to repair it. But it failed. So I ended up reinstalling Win10 clean.

    This PC has been stable since I bought it 2+ years ago. Could this crash be the result of Intel's immature fix? I really doubt it. My interpretation is that the crash/reboot is caused by the issue in the updated BIOS. But I am not sure if Dell would automatically update its BIOS without giving me a prompt.
    Reply
  • fdunn3
    While this is an article about Intel CPUs, what AMD CPUs are affected?
    Reply
  • bit_user
    20624005 said:
    where will not be any immune systems made for the next few years. so sit back and relax there will most likely be no new builds for foreseeable future.
    Certainly, the next CPU launch is too far along to fix. But Intel would be wise to delay the launch after that, if that's what it takes. Just imagine the performance boosts they'll be claiming, by comparing against CPUs having to use these patches!
    Reply
  • redgarl
    Ohhh.... Toms didn't report these issues before Intel statement? However when it is AMD -->

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/meltdown-spectre-update-amd-unbootable,36291.html
    Good job...
    Reply