Freezing machines halt chip bug patch

On January 3rd, it was discovered that major vulnerabilities have been affecting the speculative execution nature of the CPU world. With everything on the loose, the whole industry and major tech companies have been in a rush ever since to patch the flaws. At the CES 2018 during the Intel keynote, Intel’s CEO announced that they would release a patch for their 5-year-old by the end of the week, the other remaining processors will receive the update at the end of January. Things are not, however, the same on the Microsoft and AMD part. Being a key player in the operating systems, Microsoft wanted to mitigate these vulnerabilities as fast as it could. Everything was going well until a few hitches; third-party antivirus in the Windows world wouldn’t allow users to update the latest patches. As this issue was being solved, another major issue arose which made Windows pause its update.

According to Microsoft,

an older subset of AMD processors has been blocked hence users with those machines cannot get the updates, this is because the affected processors made users machines to get stuck into an unbootable state after updating their systems.

Although other AMD processors are receiving patches, still there’s no solution to the affected CPUs. This is because the older AMD chipsets do not conform with Microsoft’s documentation provided earlier. Previously, AMD state that the Meltdown flaw didn’t affect it and that the vulnerabilities accompanying Spectre could be resolved via software updates. “AMD is aware of an issue with some older generation processors following installation of a Microsoft security update that was published over the weekend,” AMD said in a fresh statement.

Microsoft stated that it’s working with AMD to resolve the issues and that users can start getting updates as earlier as next week. But according to experts, Spectre will be harder to patch and may take a longer period.

In response to unbootable AMD machines, Mark Papermaster the Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at AMD released a statement to update the AMD community on the issue. In his latest statement, the CTO believes that Spectre can be contained via an operating system patch and that AMD is working hard with OS providers to see the issue addressed. AMD is also working closely with Microsoft to correct the issue that led to the pause of patches to some older AMD processors such as AMD Opteron, Athlon, and AMD Turion X2 Ultra families. Regarding Linux, patches are already rolling out to the AMD products.

Also, on Spectre – branch target injection – “we believe that AMD’s processor architectures make it difficult to exploit Variant 2.” AMD is still working closely with the rest of the industry to mitigate this threat. Mark Papermaster continued to say that, “AMD has defined additional steps through a combination of processor microcode updates and OS patches that we will make available to AMD customers and partners to further mitigate the threat.” These updates will start rolling this week, and updates for the previous generation products will be made available in the coming weeks. Users should check with their OS vendors and system providers for latest information, configuration, and requirements.

Additionally, AMD has said that these flaws do not affect their AMD Radeon GPU since their architecture doesn’t use speculative execution. AMD also promised to provide further appropriate updates on their site.

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