Old Intel-powered Windows PCs won’t get Spectre patches

Costea Lestoc By: Costea Lestoc
2 minute read
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Intel is one of the most significant CPU manufactures in the world, and this triggers the company’s responsibility to address the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities that cornered the tech industry earlier this year. Intel published a few days ago an updated microcode revision guidance that proves new data about the company’s plans to patch its CPUs against the Spectre flaw.

Older Intel-powered Windows PCs won’t be getting microcode updates

Intel stated that it would not develop microcode updates for older CPUs that have been released over the past eleven years.

The Intel CPUs that will not get any security patches include the SoFIA line of Atom CPUs from 2015, Penryn (2007, Jasper Forest (2010), Clarksfield (2009) and Bloomfield (2008).

Intel’s reason for this decision

The company said that it performed a detailed investigation of the microcode capabilities and microarchitectures of all the products listed above and the conclusion was that microcode updates would not be released anymore for these products. Here are Intel’s reasons for deciding this:

  • The systems mentioned feature limited commercially available system software support.
  • They also have micro-architectural features that preclude a practical implementation of functionalities that are mitigating Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715)
  • Most products are implemented as closed systems based on customer inputs, and they’re expected to be less exposed to these flaws.

Intel also said that these older platforms would not receive microcode updates also due to limited support for the ecosystem and customer feedback. The company stated that it already released security updates for all its CPUs that have been launched in the past nine years and more.

Microsoft gives Intel a hand

It’s understandable that it’s complicated to roll out security patches for all PCs that are currently in use. Microsoft decided to give Intel a hand by making some of its own firmware updates available online.

Intel’s fight with Spectre is not over yet, but they’re on the right track since the company announced that its 8th Gen Core CPUs and Xeon CPUs would come with their own built-in protections against both Spectre and Meltdown. You can read Intel’s Microcode Revision Guidance.

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