Microcode Bug Affects Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs

Subject: Processors | June 26, 2017 - 08:53 AM |
Tagged: xeon, Skylake, processor, pentium, microcode, kaby lake, Intel, errata, cpu, Core, 7th generation, 6th generation

A microcode bug affecting Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake processors with Hyper-Threading has been discovered by Debian developers (who describe it as "broken hyper-threading"), a month after this issue was detailed by Intel in errata updates back in May. The bug can cause the system to behave 'unpredictably' in certain situations.

Intel CPUs.jpg

"Under complex micro-architectural conditions, short loops of less than 64 instructions that use AH, BH, CH or DH registers as well as their corresponding wider register (eg RAX, EAX or AX for AH) may cause unpredictable system behaviour. This can only happen when both logical processors on the same physical processor are active."

Until motherboard vendors begin to address the bug with BIOS updates the only way to prevent the possibility of this microcode error is to disable HyperThreading. From the report at The Register (source):

"The Debian advisory says affected users need to disable hyper-threading 'immediately' in their BIOS or UEFI settings, because the processors can 'dangerously misbehave when hyper-threading is enabled.' Symptoms can include 'application and system misbehaviour, data corruption, and data loss'."

The affected models are 6th and 7th-gen Intel processors with HyperThreading, which include Core CPUs as well as some Pentiums, and Xeon v5 and v6 processors.

Source: The Register

CES 2017: ASUS Updates Notebook and AiO Lineup to Intel Kaby Lake

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 4, 2017 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, notebook, laptop, kaby lake, intel core, detachable, convertible, CES 2017, CES, asus, all in one, AIO, 7th generation

ASUS has refreshed their notebook and all-in-one (AiO) desktop lineup with the new 7th-generation Intel Core (Kaby Lake) processors, with models ranging from the ultra-thin UX330 to the 27-inch ZN270IE AiO.

UX330.jpg

The ZenBook UX330

The refreshed notebook lineup includes the 13.3-inch ZenBook models UX310 and UX330, and 15.6-inch ZenBook UX510. The convertible ZenBook Flip UX360UA and detachable Transformer Pro T304 have also been updated to Kaby Lake.

UX360.jpg

ZenBook Flip UX360

On the all-in-one side the refreshed models include Zen AiO Pro Z240IE and Zen AiO ZN241IC desktops, with a new model announced in the Zen AiO ZN270IE, a 27-inch (FHD) model which pairs a 7th-gen Core i7 processor with discrete NVIDIA graphics.

ZN270.jpg

Zen AiO ZN270

Pricing and availability of the updated machines is as follows:

Available immediately are the ZenBook UX310UA ($699), ZenBook UX330UA ($749), and ZenBook UX510UW ($999). The ZenBook UX360UAK ($899) and Transformer Pro T304 ($999) will be available in May. Updated AiO desktops will be available in March, with the ZN241IC and ZN270IE priced at $999, and the Zen AIO Pro Z240IE at $1799.

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Source: ASUS

Lenovo Announces Updated ThinkPad Lineup Ahead of CES

Subject: Mobile | December 28, 2016 - 12:01 AM |
Tagged: yoga, update, Thinkpad, Refresh, notebook, Lenovo, laptop, kaby lake, Intel, convertible, CES 2017, CES, 7th generation, 2-in-1

Lenovo has unveiled their new ThinkPad notebook lineup ahead of the upcoming CES 2017, with refreshed models featuring the new 7th-generation Intel (“Kaby Lake”) processors, among other new features.

Yoga 370.jpg

ThinkPad Yoga 370 (Image credit: Lenovo)

New models include the newly-designed ThinkPad Yoga 370 2-in-1 convertible, refreshed T Series (T470, T570, T470s, and T470p) and L Series (L470 and L570) models, the new X270, and an updated version of the ThinkPad 13.

Thinkpad_13.jpg

ThinkPad 13 (Image credit: Lenovo)

In addition to the move to 7th-generation Intel CPUs, there are number of features across the board with the new ThinkPads, including:

  • Microsoft Signature: All ThinkPads comes loaded out of the box with the Microsoft Signature Image (clean install, no bloatware)
  • Precision TouchPad: Microsoft’s PTP standard supported across all devices
  • USB-C “Anti-Fry” Protection: Systems with USB-C have equipped with protection circuit to protect from improperly designed/malfunctioning USB-C power supplies
  • dTPM 2.0 security support: Universal implementation of discrete TPM 2.0
  • ThinkPad Intelligent diagnostic codes: Intelligent Diagnostics with musical tones from notebook interpreted by companion smartphone app
  • Intel Optane Performance: Non-volatile storage medium in the PCIe M.2 format for significant improvements in endurance, performance, and power consumption

Thinkpad X270.jpg

ThinkPad X270 (Image credit: Lenovo)

** Edit by Allyn **

Digging further into the model options / specs, it appears that some of these models will have an optional 16GB (smaller of the two) variant of Optane storage installed as a Storage Accelerator. This accelerator appears to be configurable with either an NVMe (NAND) SSD *or* a HDD. Intel will most likely overlay this cache using their RST Driver, as that infrastructure was put in place way back in 2011 when they introduced Z68 RST Caching. The 2011 version of this caching was an attempt to overlay a small SATA SSD onto a HDD, and while it was effective, the rapid adoption and sales of low-cost MLC SSDs quickly outweighed the need for such a cache as a boot volume.

intel-optane-memory-8000p.jpg

XPoint should offer enough of a performance boost (particularly for very small random access) to make for effective performance gains even over NVMe SSDs. Depending on how Intel tunes their RST driver to employ XPoint, we might see some impressive benefits, especially if the non-volatility is taken advantage of. Near instant wake from hibernates if the hiberfile is mostly cached on wake/boot, as an example.

Something else worth considering, that is not present in the above leaked specs, is that Optane will very likely be able to handle <4KB random accesses extremely well (XPoint is byte / word randomly writable / addressable). The key question is if that is possible in its first generation implementation, which we should know more about shortly after CES.

** End edit **

We won’t have detailed information about hardware (specific CPU models, etc.) until CES, so stay tuned!

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Source: Lenovo