Intel resumes Meltdown/Spectre Patches, Updates for Apollo Lake for now

Intel brings back their Meltdown/Spectre patches after withdrawing initially due to reboot issues. The company has released new BIOS updates for their Apollo Lake based mini PCs, mitigating the security flaws. For other systems, the company will provide an update on the security issue by mid-February.

Meltdown/Spectre Patches: Intel releases BIOS updates for Apollo Lake Mini PCs

Intel online webpage on Meltdown and Spectre now contains links to BIOS updates for their mini PCs, including Intel NUC, Compute Stick and Compute Card. The info page was updated on February 2, after Intel initially promised updates for January 31 as part of the new Transparency Initiative.

For now, only the following two updates are available for Apollo Lake mini PCs:

  • BIOS Version 0047 for NUC6CAYS and NUC6CAYH with Celeron J3455
  • BIOS Version 0041 for Compute Cards CD1C64GK (Celeron N3450) and CD1P64GK (Pentium Silver N4200)

The above microcode updates, however, don’t seem to be included in the “Linux Processor Microcode Data File,” which currently stays at version 20171117 from November 17, 2017, after the removal of the newer Jan. 22 version.

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Intel Meltdown/Spectre patches for Apollo Lake mini PCs

The overview page still has 90 percent BIOS updates in the TBD (to be defined) status – the next update is scheduled to be provide by Feb. 15.

Intel previously removed its already delivered Meltdown/Spectre patches after discovering they was causing machines to reboot. Last week, Microsoft also released a new Windows update KB4078130 to disable Intel’s mitigation for the Spectre attack. However, the chip maker has now identified the root cause of the issue and will post new BIOS updates when they are ready.

Meanwhile, more and malware samples are emerging trying to exploit these vulnerabilties. These are mostly in the testing phase, and not the actual malicious code, but it is obvious that the loophole should be closed as soon as possible.

That said, a proper patch is not to be expected until changes are made on the hardware level. On that front, Intel have already announced that they will release in-silicon fixes in their new processors that will hit the market later this year. AMD also recently promised silicon Spectre fixes for their next-gen Zen 2 CPUs.