OpenBSD founder: Core 2 chips are 'buggy as hell'


— 9:08 AM on June 29, 2007

Last week, Microsoft released a "microcode reliability update" for Intel processors. According to The Inquirer, the update fixes problems with Core 2 Duo E4000/E6000-series, Core 2 Quad Q6600, Core 2 Extreme QX6700, and Core 2 Extreme QX6800 processors on the desktop, Core 2 Duo T5000- and T7000-series processors on the mobile front, and Xeon 3000-, 3200-, 5100-, and 5300-series processors in the server/workstation world. However, Microsoft didn't release any information about what bugs the update actually fixes or what bugs may still remain.

On Wednesday, OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt posted a rant in a mailing list that alleged Intel's Core 2 processors were plagued with many "serious bugs." De Raadt didn't mince words:

These processors are buggy as hell, and some of these bugs don't just cause development/debugging problems, but will *ASSUREDLY* be exploitable from userland code.

As is typical, BIOS vendors will be very late providing workarounds / fixes for these processors bugs. Some bugs are unfixable and cannot be worked around. Intel only provides detailed fixes to BIOS vendors and large operating system groups. Open Source operating systems are largely left in the cold.

De Raadt links a list of errata (PDF) from Intel's site and explains, "Hiding in this list are 20-30 bugs that cannot be worked around by operating systems, and will be potentially exploitable. I would bet a lot of money that at least 2-3 of them are."

The guys at ExtremeTech have asked Intel to comment, but the company would not confirm or deny Raadt's assessment or discuss any plans for a respin or recall of Core 2 chips. Intel spokesman Nick Knupffer appeared to downplay the allegations. "All processors from all companies have errata, and Intel has a well-known errata communication process to inform our customers and the public," he stated, adding that Intel investigates all errata and issues fixes if problems and vulnerabilities are found.

 
   
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