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Intel ceases Spectre Microcode update development for older CPU families

Do you use a Bloomfield or Clarksfield CPU?

Intel ceases Spectre Microcode update development for older CPU families

Intel ceases Spectre Microcode update development for older CPU families

Over the past few months, Intel has been working to create microcode updates for all of the CPUs that are affected by Meltdown and Spectre, mitigating the effects of Spectre Variant 2 on millions of systems worldwide. 

Now it looks like Intel has hit a snag, ceasing the production of Spectre Microcode updates on specific platforms, leaving them open to attack by hackers. Affected architectures include Bloomfield, Clarksfield, Gulftown, Harpertown, Jasper Forest, Penryn, Wolfdale and Yorkfield, all of which are pre-Sandy-Bridge Intel CPU designs. 

Intel says that the Microarchitectural characteristics of these CPU designs have prevented Intel from creating microcode mitigations for Spectre Variant 2, later concluding that the CPU models in question are not used widely enough to implement a fix. Below is Intel's full explanation for why they have "stopped" the development of Spectre Mitigations for specific platforms.    

   Stopped - After a comprehensive investigation of the microarchitectures and microcode capabilities for these products, Intel has determined to not release microcode updates for these products for one or more reasons including, but not limited to the following:

a) Micro - architectural characteristics that preclude a practical implementation of features mitigating Variant 2 (CVE - 2017 - 5715 );
b) Limited Commercially Available System Software support;
c) Based on customer inputs, most of these products are implemented as "closed systems" and therefore are expected to have a lower likelihood of exposure to these vulnerabilities.
  

Intel ceases Spectre Microcode update development for older CPU families  

What needs to be taken away from this is that Intel will not create Spectre Variant 2 mitigations for a large number of pre-Sandy-Bridge CPU architectures, which means that these older CU designs will never be secure from the exploit. Intel is seemingly unwilling to create fixes for these older architectures, though given the enormous generational leap that Intel achieved with Sandy-Bridge it likely that their "Micro-architectural characteristics" excuse is accurate. 

You can join the discussion on Intel ceasing their development of Spectre Variant 2 mitigations for their older CPU platforms on the OC3D Forums

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