Security

Intel adopts Orwellian irony with call for fast Meltdown-Spectre action after slow patch delivery

For now, have some code that won't crash Skylakes and stay close to your Telescreens

By Simon Sharwood, APAC Editor

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Intel's offered the world some helpful advice about how to handle the Meltdown and Spectre chip design flaws it foisted on the world.

"I can't emphasize enough how critical it is for everyone to always keep their systems up-to-date," wrote Navin Shenoy, executive veep and general manager of Intel's data centre group, bemoaning the fact that punters are slow to install patches and criminals use that tardiness to do their worst.

Sound advice, but a bit hard to swallow given that Shenoy's "Security Issue Update" revealed that Intel is yet to develop properly working microcode updates for many of the CPUs imperilled by Spectre and Meltdown. The effort to do so turned out to be more complicated than Intel thought, as some of its early updates made the silicon unstable. So unstable, in fact, that Intel recommended rollback as the best option.

Chipzilla has managed to sort out sixth-generation Skylakes, as a February 7th Microcode Revision Guidance (PDF) document records.

But Shenoy's post - the first on Meltdown/Spectre to grace Intel's newsroom since January 22nd - also explained that the company "expects" to have working microcode or other platforms in coming days. Just what will land or when is anyone's guess.

The post also points out that PC-and-server-makers, not Intel, will be the source of the fixes.

There's more irony in Shenoy's signoff, which says "We remain as committed as ever to addressing these issues and providing transparent and timely information."

Given that Intel approved the formation of a small cabal of OEMs to address the problem and kept their efforts secret for months, then dodged questions from the press and has now been asked to explain itself by the US congress, we hope Shenoy is talking about some form of transparency other than Intel's previous action as this crisis unfolded. ®

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