Windows 10 fixes for Meltdown and Spectre are breaking some AMD computers

Windows 10 fixes for Meltdown and Spectre are breaking some AMD computers

Windows 10 fixes for Meltdown and Spectre are breaking some AMD computers

Microsoft on Tuesday affirmed that Windows operating system updates released on January 3 to address the Meltdown and Spectre CPU security issues will have noticeable system slowdown effects in some instances. Unfortunately, many PC owners with AMD-powered machines discovered that after they applied the patch, their PCs stopped booting.

On Monday, Microsoft confirmed to Information Security Media Group that it was investigating the reports, which had been documented in long discussion threads on Microsoft's support forum starting on Thursday, that its KB4056892 security update for Windows, designed in part to mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, was leaving some systems unbootable.

AMD said there was a "near zero risk" its chips could be exploited by the second Spectre attack, which required OEMs to issue firmware updates containing CPU fixes - such as Intel's IBRS microcode fix or Google's Retpoline software fix. It's unknown which CPUs were affected, but one report identified specific vulnerabilities in the Athlon and Sempron chips.

In other words, this is AMD's fault (at least according to Microsoft).

AMD processors are technically not affected by the Meltdown vulnerability, and the company has been maintaining that it also immune to the threat imposed by Spectre. If you do happen to install the update, then Microsoft's support page has a fix that should help.

Withdrawing or suspending delivery of Windows Updates is not uncommon; while there is some testing done by Microsoft, releasing things to a wider audience does from time to time unearth incompatibilities or bugs within the update.

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Myerson's most cautionary remarks, though, were reserved for the slowdown effects expected for Windows Server products.

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

Microsoft is now working on a new patch and has laid out several methods for those who have found their AMD device to be stuck in an unbootable state following the installation of the faulty fix.

Intel said last week it doesn't expect any material impact to its business from the Meltdown and Spectre issues. This is an architectural issue and it can't simply be fixed with a patch.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its regularly scheduled monthly batch of Windows patches. Because Microsoft has also announced that it won't let any patches, present or future, through unless anti-virus vendors set a registry key to tell Windows that their software is compatible with the Meltdown and Spectre patches.

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