Intel won't patch Spectre flaw in some older chips

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Intel's latest guidance has a list of several chipsets that have a "Stopped" status marked against them, denoting they won't be receiving any further patches.

Having crashed systems globally with its faulty patch for modern hardware, Intel has decided not to take the risk for its older stuff and has blamed 'micro-architectural characteristics that preclude a practical implementation of features mitigating Variant 2.

In its guidance issued Monday, which added a "stopped" status to Intel's "Production Status" for its Meltdown and Spectre fixes, Intel claimed that the processors affected are mostly implemented as closed systems and therefore are not at risk from the Spectre exploit. We've asked Intel to provide that list and will update the story if the company replies.

In March, Intel said that it was developing microcode fixes for processors as old as the 45nm Core 2 chips (built on the Penryn architecture) and the first-generation Core processors (built using the Westmere and Nehalem architectures).

When this news broke, Intel's shares fell by as much as 9.2%, which is the company's biggest intra-day trading drop in more than two years.

In a statement provided to Tom's Hardware, Intel pointed to limited ecosystem support for the updates.

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Those processors that will not receive the firmware update are: Bloomfield, Bloomfield Xeon, Clarksfield, Gulftown, Harpertown Xeon C0 and E0, Jasper Forest, Penryn/QC, SoFIA 3GR, Wolfdale, Wolfdale Xeon, Yorkfield, and Yorkfield Xeon series. To begin with, Apple relied on IBM and Motorola for designing and developing the processors for the Macs.

It's a sour note to end on, but after a rough start, Intel delivered updates for about eight years' worth of processors, including chips from the still-popular Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge era.

Intel and AMD may need to revisit their microcode fixes for Meltdown and Spectre.

Indications are that Apple will first experiment with these chips in laptops before moving to the more challenging desktop computers.

The performance impact of Meltdown patches makes it essential to move systems to Linux 4.14.

The out-of-band update disabled Intel's mitigation for the Spectre Variant 2 attack, which Microsoft says can cause data loss on top of unexpected reboots.

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