Intel asks some customers to delay security updates: WSJ

IBM's Power Systems hardware needs operating system and firmware patches to be fully protected. Image Jack Plunkett  Feature

IBM's Power Systems hardware needs operating system and firmware patches to be fully protected. Image Jack Plunkett Feature

It's been a long week since we first learned about the now infamous Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities.

The chipmaker published a table of data showing that older processors handled typical tasks 10% slower at most, after being updated with security patches. In its haste, however, it appears that Microsoft released a series of updates for Windows that could break AMD systems.

Meltdown and Spectre are two recently-revealed system-level bugs that affect the processors in virtually every PC and smartphone currently in circulation. Intel is also the worldwide partner for the upcoming Olympic winter games and will have its technology deployed to cover most of the events.

Security researchers identified the problem last year, shared details with chip manufacturers last summer, and then made a public announcement January 3.

Intel's processors are at the heart of the majority of the world's personal computers and server machines making its assessment of the side effects of patching the vulnerability an important indicator of the extent of the issue.

Microsoft gave a more pessimistic appraisal than Intel's initial assessments, particularly for servers that form the backbone of corporate networks.

Of course, if your OS, browser or some other piece of the stack is causing slow-downs, it may not be attributable to Google or any cloud vendor, but it could slow you down just the same.

Thus, various hardware vendors have been working together in the past months working on fixes. We will then focus on issuing updates for older products as prioritised by our customers. Intel is currently using its True VR platform in a variety of sporting venues like Major League Baseball, PGA Tour, NFL and the NBA.

"At least Intel and others have been able to respond in a reasonably efficient manner". In order to facilitate the production of volumetric video for film production Intel has built the largest studio space yet, aptly cubed Intel Studios, in Los Angeles, which is designed for the production of and content. Krzanich deems this as "a new beginning to a new type of content production". The difference is the Spectre and Meltdown flaws are the chip makers' faults, and not the software companies'.

Google, whose researchers helped identify the issue, reported that it had already mitigated the threat for its devices running the latest security updates, and that many weren't vulnerable in the first place.

However, the suspension of the security patch rollout does not affect all Windows users.

Who is impacted by Meltdown & Spectre?

The fact that these vulnerabilities impact the CPUs themselves make them difficult to patch. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A and C shares) and Apple.

Meanwhile, the company promised: "Microsoft is working closely with antivirus software partners to ensure that all customers receive the January Windows security updates as soon as possible". The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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