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If you own an In­tel pro­ces­sor that you bought less than eight years ago, chances are that In­tel has is­sued a Spec­tre/melt­down patch for it.

PCWorld (USA) - - Contents - BY MARK HACHMAN

In­tel’s re­vised patches for its Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge pro­ces­sor fam­i­lies have be­gun rolling out to ad­dress Spec­tre and Melt­down vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. With the re­lease of the new code, just a few older pro­ces­sor fam­i­lies re­main in the patch queue.

Ac­cord­ing to In­tel’s mi­crocode up­date

doc­u­ment, patches for sev­eral pro­ces­sor fam­i­lies have en­tered pro­duc­tion, most no­tably the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Core (Sandy Bridge) and third-gen­er­a­tion Core (Ivy Bridge) fam­i­lies. The patches also cover sev­eral, more niche ar­chi­tec­tures, such as the Glad­den

Xeon of the Sandy Bridge gen­er­a­tion, and the Broad­well Xeon chips.

On deck are the West­mere Xeons, based upon 2010’s first-gen­er­a­tion Core ar­chi­tec­ture, as well as West­mere’s pre­de­ces­sors, the Ne­halem Xeon chips. In­tel has is­sued beta patches for these, as well as some of the Ar­ran­dale and Clark­dale chips. The lat­ter fam­i­lies, which in­clude both mo­bile and desk­top chips, be­gan ship­ping in 2010 as well.

The re­main­der of In­tel’s mi­crocode guid­ance doc­u­ment shows just a few chip ar­chi­tec­tures wait­ing for patches, in­clud­ing the re­main­der of the Ar­ran­dale and Clark­dale fam­i­lies. The even older Bloom­field Core pro­ces­sors are still wait­ing on patches to exit the pre-beta stage, as is the Clarks­field chip fam­ily. The lat­ter, which in­cluded a Core i7 Ex­treme mo­bile pro­ces­sor, shipped un­til 2012.

Chip ar­chi­tec­tures from other com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing AMD and Qual­comm, are sus­cep­ti­ble to both the Spec­tre and Melt­down vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. In­tel’s use of spec­u­la­tive ex­e­cu­tion tech­niques within its mi­cro­pro­ces­sors, how­ever, have made the com­pany’s prod­ucts par­tic­u­larly prone to risk from these threats. Soon af­ter the two vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties were pub­licly dis­closed in early Jan­uary, In­tel be­gan is­su­ing patches for the af­fected pro­ces­sors, which in­cluded the bulk of its prod­ucts. Un­for­tu­nately, those patches were found to cause sys­tem in­sta­bil­ity ( go.pc­world.com/bggy), forc­ing In­tel to halt and then reis­sue new code.

Since then, In­tel’s patch­ing teams have been steadily march­ing through In­tel’s prod­uct lines, is­su­ing up­dated code. The up­dates to In­tel’s patch roadmap are cur­rent as of March 6, In­tel said.

What this means for you: For­tu­nately, no known at­tacks ex­ploit­ing ei­ther Spec­tre or Melt­down have oc­curred. If you’re wor­ried about what to do ( go.pc­world.com/prot), though, the an­swer is sim­ple: patch, patch, patch. By now, Mi­crosoft and many an­tivirus ven­dors have is­sued the ap­pro­pri­ate patches, but if you’re con­cerned that your PC or moth­er­board ven­dor hasn’t de­liv­ered the ap­pro­pri­ate patch, you can also check Mi­crosoft’s site.

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