Intel Haswell and Broadwell Reboot Issue Cause Identified

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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.

Of all the companies hit by the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, Intel has been the most exposed, thanks to aggressive memory speculation and its own market dominance. However, even though Intel has now figured out why those reboot problems occurred with those processors, it seems that relief for end users will depend on the speed of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) testing efforts.

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 now 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.

The company said the patches will be available after testing is completed.

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Intel's solution for the Spectre and Meltdown kernel bugs is nearly as bad as the problem. But when carrying out some more intensive tasks, like browsing the internet on multiple tabs, users could see slowdowns closer to 12 percent on computers running with patched chips, Intel found.

Intel first acknowledged the problem more than a week ago, saying chips in the company's lines called Broadwell and Haswell were causing problems after receiving updates.

In addition to the firmware update releases by chip vendors, operating system vendors have released updates for the Meltdown and Spectre attack methods.

"We have now identified the root cause for Broadwell and Haswell platforms, and made good progress in developing a solution to address it". In a blog post published today, the company's executive vice president, Neil Shenoy, warned users of technical issues, urging them to hold off on downloading the fix until it can patch its patch.

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