Intel Releases New Spectre Microcode Updates For Skylake Processors

Intel Wednesday said it was releasing new production microcode updates addressing the Spectre security flaw for several Skylake-based platforms.

The company said that it expects to release similar updates for more platforms in the coming days, and will continue releasing beta updates for partners to test before they move them into production.

"Ultimately, these updates will be made available in most cases through OEM firmware updates. I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is for everyone to always keep their systems up to date. … Research tells us there is frequently a substantial lag between when people receive updates and when they actually implement them," said Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel, Santa Clara, Calif.

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The statement is the latest update from Intel on its follow-up to the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws, which were revealed in January and impacted chips from multiple vendors.

The flaws, which account for three variants of a side-channel analysis security issue in server and PC processors, potentially could enable hackers to access protected data.

And while Intel has worked to issue patches for these exploits, the company in January acknowledged that some companies are reporting reboot issues with both older and newer chips – including Skylake chips – for both client compute and data center after they patched their devices.

Barrett Lamothe, federal sales team lead at MicroAge, a Tempe, Ariz.-based Intel partner, said he's been in constant contact with both Intel reps as he looks for new patches to help his customers – many of whom are in the federal sector and have a critical need for security.

"As far as what we do, we're acting as consultants with our client cases. As soon as we hear anything about patches from Intel reps, we're going in and doing that patch," he said.

The impacted CPUs include Intel's Broadwell, Haswell, Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake and Kaby Lake platforms. Intel said in the post that it has "now identified the root cause for Broadwell and Haswell platforms, and made good progress in developing a solution to address it."

"We will, of course, work closely with the industry to address these situations if and when they arise, but it again underscores the importance of regular system updates, now and in the future," said Shenoy.