Intel readying a more reliable Meltdown/Spectre fix for 'Broadwell' and 'Haswell' platforms
Intel has issued an updated guidance for customers and partners affected by the recent microcode update to 'Broadwell' and 'Haswell' CPUs. Intel's Navin Shenoy said that they have now identified the reason why the update nerfed many PCs and a new firmware is under testing to be released shortly.
Earlier this month, Intel released firmware updates for all PCs in order to patch the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. While Meltdown largely affected Intel chips, Spectre was platform agnostic. 'Haswell' and 'Broadwell' generation CPUs received the update along with the newer 'Skylake', 'Kaby Lake' and 'Coffee Lake' chips. Unfortunately, it resulted in 'Haswell' and 'Broadwell' PCs ending with up constant reboots, effectively rendering them unproductive. Intel promised back then that a revised firmware would be coming soon but still insisted that PCs get the patches in the interest of security.
Now, in the new guidance, Shenoy details that the root cause for the reboots have been identified and the revised firmware has been seeded to partners for testing after which the update will be released publicly. Shenoy has, therefore, recommended that OEMs and end users alike halt deployment of current batch of problematic updates. He also called out industry partners to test out the early versions of the firmware so that the final deployment can be accelerated. Currently, there is no ETA for the public release.
Intel has also released a list of microcode revisions (linked in Sources) to help OEMs revert to older, stable firmware for clients and workstations if needed while the newer versions are being tested. Reverting to the recommended older firmware will impact just the Variant 2 (Spectre) mitigation but will not impact Variant 1 (Spectre) and Variant 3 (Meltdown) mitigations.