Final march of the Penryns: Intel cuts Spectre fixes for some older chips

As a part of its ongoing efforts to patch its programs in opposition to the Meltdown and Spectre chip flaws, Intel indicated final month that i...


As a part of its ongoing efforts to patch its programs in opposition to the Meltdown and Spectre chip flaws, Intel indicated final month that it will be issuing fixes way back to 2005’s Yorkfield processors. However in a brand new steerage doc the corporate broadcasts that many of those older platforms is not going to obtain fixes in any case.

Particularly, work has been stopped on Spectre Variant 2 mitigations for the chip generations often known as Bloomfield, Clarksfield, Gulftown, Harpertown, Jasper Forest, Penryn, SoFIA 3GR, Wolfdale, and Yorkfield. (You could find extra specifics at this nice checklist of Intel codenames on Wikipedia.)

Variant 2 is the hardest of the chip flaws to dam or work round, so the creation of fixes is nontrivial — Intel isn’t simply copying and pasting stuff right into a microcode replace for every of those.

Within the steerage doc (PDF), Intel cited a number of causes for stopping improvement on the fixes:

  • Micro-architectural traits that preclude a sensible implementation of options mitigating Variant 2
  • Restricted Commercially Obtainable System Software program help
  • Primarily based on Buyer inputs, most of those merchandise are carried out as “closed programs” and subsequently are anticipated to have a decrease chance of publicity to those vulnerabilities.

In different phrases: it’s tremendous exhausting, they’re barely supported, and few individuals are utilizing them the place the bugs may very well be exploited.

It’s an inexpensive walkback of the scope of Intel’s mitigation efforts, particularly if you take a look at the scale of the checklist of platforms that are having the issues addressed. Nonetheless, system directors could need to forged an eye fixed over their stock to ensure no chips of those generations get uncovered to the untamed wilds of userland.

And for customers, the Penryns (Core 2 Duos specifically) have been very talked-about and I wouldn’t be stunned if a couple of folks have been nonetheless working an previous laptop computer with one — they have been in every kind of issues again in ’08. For those who’re a kind of sentimental sorts like me that retains this stuff round, it’s best to most likely keep away from doing something essential on them.

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