Intel Skylake-Based PCs to Get New Stable Spectre Security Update; More Platforms to Follow

Intel on Wednesday announced that it has released fresh microcode security updates for desktop and laptop processors based on its 6th Gen ‘Skylake‘ architecture. The announcement comes a couple of weeks after the company had to ask customers to halt installation of its initial patches for both the Meltdown and Spectre bugs because they were causing PCs to crash and reboot. The earlier updates covered multiple Intel processor generations ranging from the 4th Gen ‘Haswell’ to the 8th Gen ‘Coffee Lake’ architectures, but only Skylake has received the new, stable update so far. According to Intel, updates for these platforms are in the beta testing phase.

Intel has sent the new security microcode to PC hardware OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), who can now begin developing updates to deliver to end users. “Ultimately, these updates will be made available in most cases through OEM firmware updates,” said Navin Shenoy, Executive Vice President of Intel’s Data Center Group in a blog post. “We also continue to release beta microcode updates so that customers and partners have the opportunity to conduct extensive testing before we move them into production.”

The company is expected to release patches for its other affected platforms in the coming days. Intel, in early January, had confirmed that the Meltdown and Spectre bugs affected multiple generations of its mobile and desktop chips. Meltdown is currently thought to be specific to chips from Intel, while Spectre has also impacted processors from other manufacturers including AMD and Qualcomm.

In his blog post, Shenoy also reflected on the importance of keeping systems up-to-date with the latest security patches or other firmware updates. “According to the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber-emergency unit, US-CERT, as many as 85 percent of all targeted attacks can be prevented with – among other things – regular system updates,” he stated.

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