Published: Wed, January 10, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Cory Rios

Microsoft halts security patch after AMD systems fail to boot

Microsoft halts security patch after AMD systems fail to boot

Microsoft has begun updating its Windows operating systems against the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, but not all users will be too happy about it. In a ideal world, that would be the end of it - at least until new exploits related to Spectre and Meltdown are discovered - but of course, we don't live in a flawless world. And if you've already downloaded the updates and encountered boot problems, Microsoft has troubleshooting help for Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. "To prevent AMD customers from getting into an unbootable state, Microsoft will temporarily pause".

According to a blog post at Microsoft, PCs sold since 2016 and running Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system may encounter slowdowns of up to 10%, a decline Microsoft said would probably not be noticeable to users.

Another important clarification by Microsoft is that the firmware update ("silicon microcode") distributions are decided by the PC or server original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The update was delivered through Windows Update to a "quite pre-historic" computer, specifically running on the AMD Athlon X2 6000+, which was released a decade ago.

"It's definitely not any large volume of processors that are out there".

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Intel said last week that fixes for security issues in its microchips would not slow down computers, rebuffing concerns that the flaws would significantly reduce performance. Intel has gone to great lengths to stress that Spectre and Meltdown are not "unique to any one architecture or processor implementation".

"Microsoft is working together with AMD to fix the problem and renewal of security updates for AMD devices through the Windows Update Center and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)", she said.

Intel continued to downplay the performance hits of these OS and firmware updates, stating that "based on our tests on SYSmark 2014 SE, a leading benchmark of PC performance, 8th Generation Core platforms with solid state storage will see a performance impact of 6 percent or less".

"ARM will address Spectre in future processors but there will need to be an ongoing discipline in the design of secure systems which needs to be addressed through both software and hardware", a company spokesman said in an emailed statement. Most companies with adequate, multi-tier security have less to worry about with this exploit. Patches have been issued for 41 of those with the remainder to be patched "soon" says the company.

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