Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: Intel

Another Strong Quarter for the Giant

This afternoon Intel released their Q4 2017 financial results. The quarter was higher in revenue than was expected by analysts. The company made $17.1B US in revenue and recorded a non-GAAP net of $1.08 a share.  On the surface it looks like Intel had another good quarter that was expected by the company and others alike. Underneath the surface these results have shown a few more interesting things about the company as well as the industry it exists in.

Intel-Swimming-in-Money.jpg

We have been constantly hearing about how the PC market is weak and it will start to negatively affect those companies who's primary products go into these machines. Intel did see a 2% drop in revenue year on year from their Client Computing Group, but it certainly did not look to be a collapse. We can also speculate that part of the drop is from a much more competitive AMD and their strong performing Ryzen processors. These indications point to the PC market still being pretty stable and robust, even though it isn't growing at the rate it once had.

The Data Center Group was quite the opposite. It grew around 20% over the same timespan. Intel did not provide more detail but it seems that datacenters and cloud computing are still growing at a tremendous rate. With the proliferation of low power devices yet increased computing needs, data centers are continuing to expand and purchase the latest and greatest CPUs from Intel. So far AMD's EPYC has not been rolled out aggressively so far, but 2H 2018 should shed a lot more light on where this part of the market is going.

Click to continue reading about Intel's Q4 2017 earnings!

Podcast #484 - New Samsung SSDs, Spectre and Meltdown updates, and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2018 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: spectre, Samsung, podcast, plex, meltdown, Intel, inspiron 13, dell, amd, 860 pro, 860 evo

PC Perspective Podcast #484 - 01/25/18

Join us this week for a recap of news and reviews including new SSDs from Samsung, updates on Spectre and Meltdown, and building the ultimate Plex server, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison

Program length: 1:28:56

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:41:30 Thanks to Casper for supporting our channel. Save $50 on select mattresses at http://www.casper.com/pcper code: pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. 1:14:10 Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan:
  5. Closing/outro
 

Portable performace, post patch

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2018 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: meltdown, spectre, Broadwell, coffee lake

TechSpot ran two Dell XPS 13 ultraportables, one powered by a Broadwell era i5-5200U and one with a Coffee Lake i7-8550U, through a battery of benchmarks and tasks to see what effect the patches have had on performance.  They were lucky not to encounter the stability issues currently plaguing machines with patched UEFI but they do mention it. For intensive tasks, such as rendering or numerical calculations there was a noticeable hit to performance after the patches were installed, with both systems suffering equally.  This is interesting to see as there has been mention that older processors may suffer more than current generation CPUs.  Take a look at this newest set of benchmarks and expect to see more soon.

RE1Apq6.jpg

"We've already covered what you can expect on modern desktop systems, however today we'll be diving into the mobile side of things to see how Meltdown and Spectre patches affect ultraportable laptops."

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Source: Techspot

Intel Recommends Waiting to Apply Haswell and Broadwell Spectre and Meltdown Patches

Subject: Processors | January 22, 2018 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: spectre, meltdown, Intel

A couple of weeks ago, Intel acknowledged reports that firmware updates for Spectre and Meltdown resulted in reboots and other stability issues. At the time, they still suggested that end-users should apply the patch regardless. They have since identified the cause and their recommendation has changed: OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors, and end users should stop deploying the firmware until a newer solution is released.

INTEL_XeonE7v3_1_p.jpg

The new blog post also states that an early version of the updated patch has been created. Testing on the updated firmware started over the weekend, and it will be published shortly after that process has finished.

According to their security advisory, another patch that solved both Spectre 1 and Meltdown did not exhibit stability and reboot issues. This suggests that something went wrong with the Spectre 2 mitigation, which could be a fun course of speculation for tea-leaf readers to guess what went wrong in the patch. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, though, because new code will be available soon.

Source: Intel

Intel is hoping to find a way to kill the disease slightly more quickly than the patient

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2018 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: Broadwell, haswell, Intel, security, meltdown, spectre

Spectre and Meltdown are about as bad as vulnerabilities can get, offering significant security issues on a wide variety of processors with only a band aid solution currently available.  It seems Intel is asking many clients to rip that band aid off as the supposed cure is now causing more widespread harm than the vulnerabilities it is to protect against.  This is not a case of performance decreases due to the patch but instead, as Intel executive vice president Neil Shenoy puts it, the patch "may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behaviour."  This means that not only new machines powered by Broadwell or Haswell are unprotected but also that many of your service providers will also not be installing these patches.

There is no good news out of this today, the difficulty a widespread attack is high but a targeted attack; not so much.

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"We recommend that OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors and end users stop deployment of current versions, as they may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior."

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Source: Slashdot

... and there's the AMD suit

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2018 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: Intel, amd, spectre, meltdown, Lawsuit

The lawsuit against Intel was launched last week and yesterday a similar case was launched against AMD by a shareholder, alleging that the company knew about their vulnerability to Spectre and hid that information causing detrimental affects to stock prices.  There were several interesting points in the way the two cases differ, which The Register highlighted.  The first is the timing, Intel's case encompasses the time from 27 July 2017, to 4 January 2018 while AMD's lawsuit starts the day of their last end of year report, 21 February, 2017.  Not only does this encompass a longer period of time that the suit against Intel, it starts well before 1 June, 2017 when Project Zero first informed AMD of the vulnerability.  Also worth noting is that AMD's stock prices are higher than they were at the beginning of 2017 which makes any damage to share prices hard to demonstrate.

The various companies that are vulnerable to Spectre, Meltdown or both need to make right by this but it is somewhat interesting to see the disparity between these two specific cases.

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"Responding to the class-action lawsuit, an AMD PR rep told The Reg: "We believe these allegations are without merit. We intend to vigorously defend against these baseless claims."

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Source: The Register

Intel Responds to Reboot Issues with Meltdown and Spectre Updates

Subject: Processors | January 18, 2018 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: update, spectre, security, restart, reboot, processor, patch, meltdown, Intel, cpu

The news will apparently get worse before it gets any better for Intel, as the company updated their security recommendations for the Spectre/Meltdown patches for affected CPUs to address post-patch system restart issues. Specifically, Intel notes that issues may be introduced in some configurations with the current patches, though the company does not recommend discontinued use of such updates:

" Intel recommends that these partners, at their discretion, continue development and release of updates with existing microcode to provide protection against these exploits, understanding that the current versions may introduce issues such as reboot in some configurations".

meltdown_spectre.png

Image credit: HotHardware

The recommendation section of the security bulletin, updated yesterday (January 17, 2018), is reproduced below:

  • Intel has made significant progress in our investigation into the customer reboot sightings that we confirmed publicly last week
  • Intel has reproduced these issues internally and has developed a test method that allows us to do so in a predictable manner
  • Initial sightings were reported on Broadwell and Haswell based platforms in some configurations. During due diligence we determined that similar behavior occurs on other products including Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake, and Kaby Lake based platforms in some configurations
  • We are working toward root cause
  • While our root cause analysis continues, we will start making beta microcode updates available to OEMs, Cloud service providers, system manufacturers and Software vendors next week for internal evaluation purposes
  • In all cases, the existing and any new beta microcode updates continue to provide protection against the exploit (CVE-2017-5715) also known as “Spectre Variant 2”
  • Variants 1 (Spectre) and Variant 3 (Meltdown) continue to be mitigated through system software changes from operating system and virtual machine vendors
  • As we gather feedback from our customers we will continue to provide updates that improve upon performance and usability

Intel recommendations to OEMs, Cloud service providers, system manufacturers and software vendors

  • Intel recommends that these partners maintain availability of existing microcode updates already released to end users. Intel does not recommend pulling back any updates already made available to end users
  • NEW - Intel recommends that these partners, at their discretion, continue development and release of updates with existing microcode to provide protection against these exploits, understanding that the current versions may introduce issues such as reboot in some configurations
  • NEW - We further recommend that OEMs, Cloud service providers, system manufacturers and software vendors begin evaluation of Intel beta microcode update releases in anticipation of definitive root cause and subsequent production releases suitable for end users

Intel recommendations to end users

  • Following good security practices that protect against malware in general will also help protect against possible exploitation until updates can be applied
  • For PCs and Data Center infrastructure, Intel recommends that patches be applied as soon as they are available from your system manufacturer, and software vendors
  • For data center infrastructure, Intel additionally recommends that IT administrators evaluate potential impacts from the reboot issue and make decisions based on the security profile of the infrastructure

Intel has worked with operating system vendors, equipment manufacturers, and other ecosystem partners to develop software updates that can help protect systems from these methods. End users and systems administrators should check with their operating system vendors and apply any available updates as soon as practical.

The full list of affected processors from Intel's security bulletin follows:

  • Intel® Core™ i3 processor (45nm and 32nm)
  • Intel® Core™ i5 processor (45nm and 32nm)
  • Intel® Core™ i7 processor (45nm and 32nm)
  • Intel® Core™ M processor family (45nm and 32nm)
  • 2nd generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 3rd generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 4th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 5th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 6th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 7th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • 8th generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • Intel® Core™ X-series Processor Family for Intel® X99 platforms
  • Intel® Core™ X-series Processor Family for Intel® X299 platforms
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 3400 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 3600 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 6500 series
  • Intel® Xeon® processor 7500 series
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v2 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v4 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v5 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 v6 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v2 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E5 v4 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 v2 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 v3 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor E7 v4 Family
  • Intel® Xeon® Processor Scalable Family
  • Intel® Xeon Phi™ Processor 3200, 5200, 7200 Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor C Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor E Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor A Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor x3 Series
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor Z Series
  • Intel® Celeron® Processor J Series
  • Intel® Celeron® Processor N Series
  • Intel® Pentium® Processor J Series
  • Intel® Pentium® Processor N Series

We await further updates and developments from Intel, system integrators, and motherboard partners.

Source: Intel

Podcast #483 - News from CES: Kaby Lake G, Zen+, and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2018 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: Zen+, Vega, spectre, podcast, meltdown, Kaby Lake G, Intel, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #483 - 01/18/18

Join us this week for a recap of news from CES 2018! We talk about Intel's Kaby Lake G processor featuring Vega graphics, Zen+ CPUs, the performance impact of Meltdown and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison

Program length: 1:52:54

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:42:20 Thanks to HelloFresh for supporting our podcast. Go to HelloFresh.com and use the code pcper30 to get $30 off your first week of deliveries.
  3. News items of interest:
    1. CES 2018
      1. AMD
      2. ASUS
      3. Lenovo
  4. 1:40:20 Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan: GPU Price suck.
  5. Closing/outro
 

MSI motherboards BIOS versions with updated security microcode

Subject: Motherboards | January 17, 2018 - 09:56 PM |
Tagged: msi, spectre, meltdown, bios, update, security

MSI have released updated BIOS versions for their Z370 motherboards to protect against Meltdown and Spectre which you can grab here.

z370-20180110-1.jpg

These patches are live now, with new BIOS versions in the works for the renaming series, including all X299, 200, 100-series and X99 series including the various X, H and B sub-series motherboards.  The list is quite impressive, follow that link to see if your board will be getting an update in the near future.  The page lists the version number of the upcoming BIOS you will need, so keep an eye on this page and MSI for the official release.

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Source: MSI

Don't have a meltdown boss; I really do need a new phone

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2018 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: security, cellphones, spectre, meltdown

The fact that Spectre and Meltdown combined affect 72% of Android and Apple devices on the market offers a compelling reason to request a new work phone.  In many cases the devices being used in large enterprises are old enough that there is no patch coming, the story Slashdot linked to suggests almost 25% of the devices in use will fall into that category.  Since those devices have also missed out on numerous security features which were added in newer operating systems, you should have enough reasons to justify the expenditure.  The next time you are banking or dealing with a service provider in your own personal life you might want to peek at the phone they use and make sure they aren't endangering your own information.

old-cellphone.jpg

"Analysis of more than 100,000 enterprise mobile devices shows that just a tiny percentage of them have been protected against the vulnerabilities -- and some simply may never be protected. Security firm Bridgeway found that just 4 percent of corporate phones and tablets in the UK have been patched against Spectre and Meltdown."

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Source: Slashdot