Microsoft halts some AMD chip Spectre patches after PCs freeze

Joanna Estrada
January 13, 2018

AMD has confirmed that its processors are exposed to both variants of the Spectre security flaw, but reiterated that its CPUs are immune to the Meltdown flaw that largely affects only Intel microprocessors.

Some complaints on customer support blogs described computers freezing when users attempted to install Microsoft patches on decade-old Athlon X2 chips, for example.

Intel has said it is committed to publicly identify significant security vulnerabilities and follow rules of responsible disclosure, in order to accelerate the security of the entire industry. And if you have an AMD Radeon GPU, there's also no need to worry. "After investigating, Microsoft has determined that some AMD chipsets do not conform to the documentation previously provided to Microsoft to develop the Windows operating system mitigations to protect against the chipset vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown".

In particular, he thanked the Google Project Zero team for practising responsible disclosure, creating the opportunity for the industry to address these issues in a co-ordinated way. Still, AMD is impacted to some extent by the two exploits under the Spectre banner, and the company has now posted an update to its website detailing its approach to mitigating each variant.

Now, following his keynote address at CES 2018, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has issued an open letter, outlining a three-point pledge to consumers. However, safe working updates from Microsoft should resume by next week.

Intel has committed to provide updates for at least 90% of CPUs developed in the last five years, by January 15th.

However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Intel is quietly advising some customers to hold off installing patches because some of the patches have bugs of their own.

Following the Wall Street Journal report, Intel issued a statement by Nevin Shenoy, general manager of its datacentre group, confirming that Intel had received reports from "a few customers" of higher system reboots after applying firmware updates. "We are also working directly with data centre customers to discuss the issue". If this requires a revised firmware update from Intel, we will distribute that update through the normal channels.

Last week the stock rose almost 20 percent as investors speculated AMD could wrest market share from Intel, whose chips are exposed to risks from possible Meltdown and Spectre attacks.

Graphics specialist Nvidia was the latest chipmaker to say its equipment was vulnerable to the Spectre security threat, broadening the scope of concern for millions of computers beyond their central processors.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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