Intel tells users to stop deploying buggy Spectre patch, citing technical issues

Meltdown and Spectre fallout leads to first RC9 of a Linux Kernel since 2011

That's the latest directive from Intel, who cited spontaneous reboot and system instability problems - first reported January 11 - following its latest firmware patch aimed to defend against the Spectre and Meltdown exploit vulnerabilities.

The problem specifically involves PCs and servers on Intel's fifth generation Core Broadwell and fourth-generation Haswell platforms, roughly released starting between 2013 and 2015. Intel has asked its partners to focus on testing early versions of the updated fix so it can accelerate the release.

Intel initially was recommending that users continue to update despite the issue. Recent statements from Intel and Microsoft confirm that some patches may cause a reduction in system performance, as patching the vulnerabilities means fiddling with processes that are created to speed up CPU performance. Now, Intel says it's identified a fix for its fix, according to Intel executive Navin Shenoy. Especially if users have a Haswell or Broadwell based system.

"For those concerned about system stability while we finalize the updated solutions", Shenoy added, "we are also working with our OEM partners on the option to utilize a previous version of microcode that does not display these issues, but removes the Variant 2 (Spectre) mitigations". Both updates typically are needed, particularly to ward off Spectre-type attacks, Microsoft explained earlier this month.

The guidance applies to at least some of the processors from Intel's last several generations of chips, with affected models in the Broadwell, Haswell, Coffee Lake, Kaby Lake, Skylake, and Ivy Bridge families. In that post, he had suggested that vendors would get firmware updates for those processors sometime this week. While Intel has issued patches for up to 90 per cent of affected CPUs, they came out a cost. So far, things haven't gone smoothly.

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