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Microsoft halts AMD chip patches after PC problems

Microsoft halts AMD chip patches after PC problems

Meltdown and Spectre are two memory corruption flaws that could allow hackers to bypass operating systems and other security software to steal passwords or encryption keys on most types of computers, phones and cloud-based servers. The documentation provided to Microsoft by AMD was apparently inaccurate, which means the patch that Microsoft developed wasn't compatible. Not all servers will be affected, it said.

The upshot is that users should be running Windows 10 on modern silicon.

Microsoft didn't say whether or not it would be possible to upgrade Windows 7 and 8 to the newer kernel.

Security researchers disclosed the flaws on January 3 that affected almost every modern computing device containing chips from Intel, AMD and ARM Holdings.

With Windows 10 on older silicon (2015-era PCs with Haswell or older CPU), some benchmarks show more significant slowdowns, and we expect that some users will notice a decrease in system performance. Intel released its own performance information, though it showed just a slight impact for its 8th-generation Core chips. It also shows the challenge of patching such widespread hardware flaws.

Intel said that it has been focused on designing and distributing microcode patches, rather than benchmarking their effects, the company said.

"Based on our most recent PC benchmarking, we continue to expect that the performance impact should not be significant for average computer users", Intel said in a statement.

With Windows 8 and Windows 7 on older silicon (2015-era PCs with Haswell or older CPU), we expect most users to notice a decrease in system performance.

It conceded that for servers, the whole picture is not yet clear and said that slowdowns will vary according to the technique used to protect machines.

The revelation prompted a dash by IT departments to apply software fixes made available by companies like Microsoft. In certain cases, where servers aren't at risk from data theft, companies may decide speed is more important than security.

Microsoft said in a customer support blog post it had received complaints from AMD customers that their machines stopped loading the Start menu or taskbar after installing Windows operating system security updates.

The company goes on to state, "Our goal is to provide our customers with the best possible protection against the exploits while minimizing the performance impact of the updates".

Microsoft has said most customers of its Azure cloud-computing service will see no noticeable impact. "The security of the systems our customers depend upon and enjoy is a top priority for us", Myserson adds.

Intel, Microsoft, Apple and others have been working in secret for months to prepare fixes.

Meltdown and Spectre fiasco is affecting nearly all Windows PCs and Phones and with processors manufactured by Intel, AMD, and ARM.

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