Remember the Meltdown and Spectre flaws that affect all computers and mobile phones out there? Yeah, we’re not done with that, as the software patches that are supposed to fix the hardware vulnerabilities come with other unwanted side effects on top of just slowing down your computer.
Some older Intel-powered machines can reboot unexpectedly once the patches are installed. And unfortunately, Intel just confirmed that its firmware fix for Spectre might do the same thing on newer machines that pack Kaby Lake and Skylake processors.
Intel explained everything in a new press release. The company said that its firmware updates are out for 90% of Intel processors produced in the past five years, but it still has “more work to do.”
“While the firmware updates are effective at mitigating exposure to the security issues, customers have reported more frequent reboots on firmware updated systems,” Intel’s Navin Shenoy wrote. “As part of this, we have determined that similar behavior occurs on other products in some configurations, including Ivy Bridge-, Sandy Bridge-, Skylake-, and Kaby Lake-based platforms. We have reproduced these issues internally and are making progress toward identifying the root cause. In parallel, we will be providing beta microcode to vendors for validation by next week.”
In other words, it’s likely that Intel will issue further updates to fix things. Or so we hope.
Shenoy also posted more details on the potential impact on performance that the patches may have, stressing again that it all boils down to the kind of workload you’re accustomed to. “Generally speaking, the workloads that incorporate a larger number of user/kernel privilege changes and spend a significant amount of time in privileged mode will be more adversely impacted,” he said, which pretty much echoes what we’ve heard before.