Microsoft's chip security fix is turning some PCs into bricks

Greg Lawrence
January 10, 2018

"Microsoft has reports of customers with some AMD devices getting into an unbootable state after installing recent Windows operating system security updates", the company said.

Shares in Intel, which reiterated on Tuesday that it saw no sign of significant slowdown in computers, fell 1.4 percent, while those of AMD fell almost 4 percent.

AMD shares have gained almost 20 per cent in the last week as investors speculated that the chipmaker could wrest market share from Intel, whose chips were most exposed to the security flaws.

AMD's stock is down roughly 3%.

Intel was down about 0.6% before the blog post, and is trading about 1.65% lower after.

The discovery of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws sparked an global panic last week because it hit billions of computers and smartphones.

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Initial estimations said the Linux Meltdown and Spectre patches would produce between 5% and 50% slowdowns, but further tests and benchmarks proved many claims exaggerated. "You need a level of access to the system before it can be exploited".

The number of affected AMD processors has not been disclosed, but an AMD spokesperson said the booting errors affect only a small subset of its "older" processors. 2015-era Windows 10 PCs with Haswell or older CPU might experience significant slowdowns.

The chipmaker said last week that fixes for security issues in its microchips would not slow down computers, rebuffing concerns that the flaws would significantly reduce performance.

More precisely, this is how Meltdown and Spectre patches are going to affect Microsoft's products, as detailed today by Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group.

The company has blamed AMD's own documentation, which apparently does "not conform to the documentation previously provided to Microsoft". However, he emphasized that businesses running transactional processing systems or time-sensitive applications need to conduct testing before they apply any OS security updates.

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