Published: Wed, January 10, 2018
Science | By Dan Gutierrez

Ouch! Microsoft's Spectre security update bricks some AMD-powered PCs

Ouch! Microsoft's Spectre security update bricks some AMD-powered PCs

Microsoft is expected to begin rolling out OTA updates for Windows 8.1 and 7 devices with security fixes on Patch Tuesday and before rolling out new cumulative updates, Microsoft detailed the impact of Meltdown and Spectre patches on older devices in terms of performance.

Bad news if you own a Windows PC that has an AMD CPU at its heart and have received a security patch from Microsoft - you may have had your computer shagged.

The patch issue affects "a small subset of older processors that were sold prior to 2009", an AMD spokesman said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Microsoft said AMD customers who can't turn on their computers should run through a few troubleshooting scenarios, including booting into safe mode or even reinstalling Windows. If your machine is now in an unbootable state, Microsoft recommends visiting its support site for more information.

There's no timeline for the release of that fix, but it probably won't be a long turnaround given the threat posed by Meltdown and Spectre. The hiccup is an embarrassing issue for both AMD and Microsoft, just as the industry as a whole continues to deal with the fallout from the Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws.

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Intel and AMD have not disclosed the number of chips affected by the security flaws.

The comments in a blog post were the clearest signal from Microsoft that the microchip flaws for Intel and other chipmakers described last week could meaningfully degrade performance.

"It's definitely not any large volume of processors that are out there".

Silicon Republic also reported that Microsoft has halted AMD Meltdown and Spectre patches after reports of unbootable PCs.

The software maker also acknowledges that there is still much to be learned as companies like Intel, AMD, Amazon, Google, and Apple all issue updates. Nine Windows 10 security updates in total represent a threat to AMD systems, and they're all being withheld from affected machines pending a solution, according to Data Breach Today. "I'm not saying don't patch or address it".

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