Here We Go Again: Intel Releases Updated Spectre Patches


Here We Go Again: Intel Releases Updated Spectre Patches

In a press release published on Tuesday, Intel announced it resumed the deployment of CPU microcode firmware updates. These updates are meant to mitigate the Spectre Variant 2 vulnerability —CVE-2017-5715.

The Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) and Spectre variant 1 (CVE-2017-5753) vulnerabilities —which became public at the start of the year— were fixed through software updates at the OS level.

Intel paused the deployment of Spectre v2 CPU microcode updates on January 22 after receiving reports that the initial patches caused high system reboot rates on some systems, causing problems especially with Intel-based servers deployed in data centers.

Intel comes back with new Spectre v2 microcode patches

After taking some time to review and fix the initial patches, Intel resumed microcode updates for a few Skylake CPU models on February 8, but that was the only CPU series Intel addressed at the time.

On Tuesday, Intel released a new batch of microcode updates to OEM vendors, which are now in the process of embedding these patches into motherboard and other firmware updates, and deploy them to end users.

Tuesday’s batch included updates for Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, and more Skylake processors, but also for next-gen CPU lines such as the Intel Core X series, Intel Xeon Scalable, and Intel Xeon D —the last two for data center systems.

PDF guide to help sysadmins

Intel also released a PDF guide for system administrators with details on the patching process and what CPU series have received new Spectre v2 patches.

Intel also published a whitepaper on how software engineers could use a new coding technique developed by Google —called Retpoline— that can aid mitigate the Spectre v2 vulnerability at the software level.

The CPU maker also opened a new bug bounty program for receiving reports on Meltdown and Spectre-like vulnerabilities. Intel plans to pay researchers up to $250,000 for such bugs

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