Intel Releases Spectre Patches for Broadwell, Haswell CPUs
Intel has released new firmware updates for its Broadwell and Haswell processors to address the Spectre vulnerability. After the first round of Spectre patches released by the company caused more frequent reboots and other instability problems, Intel started working on new microcode updates. The company first released new firmware updates for its Skylake processors, and last week it announced the availability of patches for several other CPUs, including Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake.
This week, the company updated the list of available firmware patches to state that the fixes for Haswell and Broadwell processors are also ready for use in production environments. As of February 28, patches that can be deployed in production environments are available for the following products: Anniedale/Moorefield, Apollo Lake, Avoton/Rangeley, Broadwell (except Server EX), Broxton, Cherry View, Coffee Lake, Cougar Mountain, Denverton, Gemini Lake, Haswell (except Server EX), Kaby Lake, Knights Landing, Knights Mill, Skylake, SoFIA, Tangier, Valleyview/Bay Trail, and XGold. Beta patches have been provided to OEMs for validation for Gladden, some Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, and Skylake Xeon E3 processors.
The microcode updates for Broadwell and Haswell Server EX processors, specifically the Xeon E7v4 and E7v3 product families, are also in beta phase. As for the remaining CPUs, updates are either in pre-beta or planning phase, but pre-mitigation microcode updates are available for many of these products. The patches will be delivered as OEM firmware updates.
Device manufacturers started releasing BIOS updates to patch the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities shortly after their disclosure, but a majority of firms decided to halt the updates due to instability issues. Some vendors have now resumed the distribution of firmware updates. Meltdown attacks are possible due to a vulnerability tracked as CVE-2017-5754, while Spectre attacks are possible due to flaws tracked as CVE-2017-5753 (Variant 1) and CVE-2017-5715 (Variant 2).
Meltdown and Spectre Variant 1 can be patched with software updates, but Spectre Variant 2 requires microcode updates for a complete fix. Intel and AMD claim they are working on processors that will have built-in protections against these types of exploits. Intel faces more than 30 lawsuits, including ones filed by customers and shareholders, over the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.