Intel has a patching problem. All last week, users reported computers spontaneously rebooting after installing Intel’s Spectre/Meltdown patch. Now, Intel seems to be giving up on those patches entirely. In a post today, executive vice president Navin Shenoy announced that Intel had located the source of some of the recent reboot problems and is recommending users skip the patches entirely until a better version could be deployed.
“We recommend that OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors, and end users stop deployment of current versions on specific platforms,” Shenoy wrote, “as they may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior.”
The guidance applies to at least some of the processors from Intel’s last several generations of chips, with affected models in the Broadwell, Haswell, Coffee Lake, Kaby Lake, Skylake, and Ivy Bridge families. Certain lines are affected more than others — only Ivy Bridge datacenter/workstation processors are included, for instance — but at least some chips from most recent consumer lines appear to be impacted.
Intel says that it’s identified the issue behind the unexpected reboots on Broadwell and Haswell processors and is working toward releasing an update that addresses the exploits without causing that issue. The same issues have been happening on Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake, and Kaby Lake processors too; Intel says it’s “actively working on developing solutions” for those platforms as well.
The Meltdown and Spectre bugs required a vast number of quickly assembled patches, including browser and operating-system-level fixes — but the patches to processors themselves are widely considered the most difficult task for the recovery. Shortly after the vulnerability became public, Microsoft was forced to halt AMD’s Spectre patch after it rendered some computers unbootable.