April 24, 2018

Confirmed: Intel Will Not Patch Spectre And Meltdown Flaw In Older Processors

05 April 2018, 12:34 | Rudolph Thomas

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Intel has decided not to provide microcode updates to plug Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in a number of older processors.

In an announcement first spotted by Tom's Hardware, Intel confirmed that it had stopped development on Spectre-related microcode updates for its SoFIA Atom, Kasper Forest, Clarksfield, Bloomfield, Wolfdale, Yorkfield, and Penryn processor families, which had now be marked as in-development.

The full list of architectures includes Penryn (2007), Yorkfield (2007), Wolfdale (2007), Bloomfield (2008), Clarksfield (2009), Nehalem-based Jasper Forest (2010), and Intel Atom "SoFIA" (2015).

"The benefit to Apple would be two-fold: 1) aggregating development across iOS and MacOS can help lower the overall cost of R&D by potentially combining development teams and potentially reducing time to market for new products and Apps, and, 2) internally developing the processor can help save some cost vs. purchasing the processors from Intel", he said.

A third point that the chip giant makes is that numerous computers running these processors are "closed systems" not connected to the outside world and so unlikely to be exposed to Meltdown and Spectre anyway.

Its stated reasons also include that the products lack commercial system software support. Over the top, the 8 Gen Intel Core i9-8950HK processor is optimized to overshoot the performance limits of portable devices.

A Bloomberg report claims Apple Inc. will use its own chips in Mac computers by 2020, completely replacing processors from Intel Corp., according to individuals familiar with the plans. For example, the Bloomfield processors in question are high-end first-generation models: the Intel Core Processor Extreme Edition i7-975 and i7-965, and Core i7-920, 930, 940, 950, 960 (alongside Xeon offerings). In its inimitable way the Reg says that the 10 product families will be neglected by Intel fixers and patchers "in some cases because it's too tricky to remove the Spectre v2 class of vulnerabilities".

Apple and Intel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

And offers patching tips from US CERT, which it failed to brief on the bugs. In an update to the mitigation guide, the company said it has stopped working on Spectre Variant 2 mitigation for some processor series because fixes are either impractical or the processors are no longer widely supported.

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