Non-Repairable Bugs In Latest Intel Processors

In a way that reminds of the first Pentium processors, it has been asserted by the founder of OpenBSD, Theo de Raadt that a number of flaws in the processor microcode exist.

Some have been acknowledged by Intel, and updates to modify Microsoft operating systems to work with the errors have been released. The changes have not been discussed in any detail, so exact problems simply have been ‘coded around’ in these patches released on June 22nd. This is referred to as a ‘microcode reliability update’.

Mr. Raadt continues with the assessment that not only are the processors “buggy as hell”, “but will ASSUREDLY be exploitable from userland code”. The worst part of his claim is that certain errors in the chip will not be repairable with any coding changes. Intel is keeping quiet about the assessment from Mr. Raadt, but has released ‘urgent’ BIOS and microcode revisions for release on July 11th.

The affected CPUs are the Core2Duo E4000 and E6000, the Core2Quad Q6600, Core2Extreme QX6600, QX6700, and QX6800. These are the bulk of the current line up, so it remains to be seen what this will mean for sales or possible recall events. The representatives state that all errata have been accounted for in their published lists, and than updates to microcode have been done.

Still, no direct refutation of the charges by the founder of OpenBSD have been put forth.

Of note, the vociferous Mr. Raadt also sprays some verbal poison at AMD, as he states the company is also being less than helpful in the release of any code problems with their CPUs. [The only difference it seems is that the number and listing seems less, and Mr. Raadt doesn’t expound on how any of the AMD errors are ‘unfixable’]


[tags] Intel, Core2Duo, Core2Quad, Microsoft, BIOS code, errata list, microcode repairs, OpenBSD, AMD [/tags]