Intel to begin shipping Skylake CPUs with SGX enabled

Intel's Software Guard Extensions (SGX) is a CPU instruction set that allows applications to set aside private memory regions for code and data. SGX was first introduced with the Haswell CPU architecture, but the instructions weren't enabled for Skylake CPUs that sold at launch. Future batches of chips will have SGX enabled, though. Intel has posted a Product Change Notification (PDF) to notify partners that updated Skylake CPUs with SGX will be available later this month.

The CPUs affected by this change are the Xeon E3-1200 v5, Core i5, and Core i7 families. Processors with SGX enabled will have a different S-Spec code for easy identification purposes, but will otherwise be indistinguishable from existing CPUs. There won't be a new stepping or change in die size, and Intel says there shouldn't even be a need to update system BIOSes.

The updated CPUs should become available to customers starting October 26. Intel says that its partners must be ready for the updated CPUs by November 30. Since the company doesn't expect re-qualification or validation for the change, the transition should be smooth.

Ben Funk

Sega nerd and guitar lover

Comments closed
    • Geonerd
    • 4 years ago

    Can someone suggest a good link that discusses the SGX extensions and how they are such a wonderful thing? The first link (M.Hokestra) provided by Ben is 96% buzzword-B.S.

    TY

      • BlackDove
      • 4 years ago

      Look up Bromium vSentry and hardware hypervisors are.

    • yuhong
    • 4 years ago

    Intel did the same thing with VT in 2009 with Core 2 processors.

    • BlackDove
    • 4 years ago

    Yet another reason the initial Skylake chips are a disappointment.

      • Meadows
      • 4 years ago

      You’re like an even less informed version of Krogoth.

        • TruthSerum
        • 4 years ago

        Uh, why are you personally attacking him for his opinion?

          • BlackDove
          • 4 years ago

          Thats all he ever does.

        • BlackDove
        • 4 years ago

        I like how you never back up what you say but attempt to be inflammatory like you were when you got Nevermind and g33kl33tgamer banned lol.

        You never say ANYTHING useful on this site.

        The initial Skylake chips, and probably LGA1151 Skylake is a disappointment because of the bad thermals and unimpressive performance compared to Broadwell.

        Skylake Purley will likely be very impressive.

          • I.S.T.
          • 4 years ago

          I don’t think any one person can get somebody banned short of a mod/admin…

            • BlackDove
            • 4 years ago

            Read his comments on the ecent Windows 10 article lol.

      • Krogoth
      • 4 years ago

      I blame Intel for trying to rush Skylake to meet the “Back to School” season.

      • VladDaGreat
      • 4 years ago

      @BlackDove. I have been raving and creating enemies in SeekingAlpha stating the same thing. You can only see the difference between i7-4970K and i7-6700K to see what kind of big fart was the initial Skylake chips. It appears INTC has abandoned the desktop line, because AMD is like 5 years behind, so no need to invest in R&D. Plus nobody buys those rigs anymore. All the money are now in the DataCenter and the mobile line.

        • BlackDove
        • 4 years ago

        Knights Landing, Knights Hill and Skylake Purley are very impressive.

        Most people on CONSUMER LEVEL tech sites like this one have no clue lol.

          • Krogoth
          • 4 years ago

          Skylake is an impressive architecture and it just that architecture was designed primarily for prosumer and enterprise-tier workloads. The architecture is only marginally better at mainstream workloads then its predecessors.

          It was pretty much the same deal with Haswell’s debut.

          Skylake-Ex and Skylake-EP are going to be far more impressive chips under the correct workloads then their normal desktop counterparts.

            • BlackDove
            • 4 years ago

            Thats because Intel hasnt really improved single core performance at all.

            Sandy Bridge LGA1155 maximum 4 cores dual channel DDR3.

            Sandy Bridge LGA2011 maximum 8 cores 4 channel DDR3.

            Skylake LGA1151 maximum 4 cores dual channel DDR4.

            Skylake Purley maximum 28 cores, six channel DDR4 with XPoint DIMMs.

            Theres hardly any difference between Sandy Bridge and Skylake desktop parts compared to their server counterparts.

            • Krogoth
            • 4 years ago

            Memory bandwidth and extra cache found on the enterprise and prosumer-tier chips don’t really help with mainstream workloads.

            Dual-channel DDR3 and DDR4 yield more than enough bandwidth to keep four cores on desktop chips happy as well as their integrated GPU. The extra memory channels on the enterprise and prosumer chips are meant for having a ton of cores and multi-socket environments.

      • ronch
      • 4 years ago

      No one’s even using these instructions yet and I doubt you’d find it in the software you can actually get your hands on in the next 5 years unless you’re working for some rocket science project. So why is it a disappointment? I’d feel privileged to own a Skylake chip instead of complaining about this.

      Ah… some folks.

        • BlackDove
        • 4 years ago

        Next five years? Why would Intel add such a “useless” feature now then?

        Why would they waste time developing it now?

        No, things like Bromium and probably even consumer level security products will be making use of this very soon.

        • hansmuff
        • 4 years ago

        Adoption of instruction sets isn’t all that slow. Particularly when you have something that is a real differentiation between security software that implements it vs one that does not.

        I’m disappointed that it’s slipped in this way, but it’s better now than later so development with it can get started.

        As far as the rocket science comment, that’s not true at all. Anything from Anti-Malware to system protection to Media (via new content protection) will adapt to that instruction set.

    • the
    • 4 years ago

    Ah, this explains why I couldn’t get [i<]any[/i<] SkyLake CPUs from several big OEMs until later October. It seems that they have been silently waiting for this errata fix before shipping their systems. I know several industries want to use such features for security purposes and those can be rather large customers. Holding off on shipments means that they avoid the complications of what chip has what features and ship SGX enabled systems to all their customers.

      • MetricT
      • 4 years ago

      With all the Skylake reviews I’ve read, none of them have mentioned testing TSX to see if it was working correctly now. We’re writing a WAN filesystem that can scale to 1000’s of threads, and TSX/SGX/MDX would be a tremendous help for writing and debugging threaded code. I’d love somebody to review Skylake from that angle.

        • chuckula
        • 4 years ago

        You’ll want a Skylake Xeon review. Those parts aren’t really out on the market yet though, although the lower-end Broadwell Xeons (including the Xeon D) are out and include support.

        TSX is a hard feature to really review in a forum like TR. They could try to run a canned benchmark with a database or other load that takes advantage of transactional memory, but the real impact is *very* dependent upon your workload and you’ll really have to try it yourself.

          • the
          • 4 years ago

          I’d like to see some benchmarks as well but you are correct that they will be very workload dependent and useful only for a particular niche. Still it’d be nice to see if theory holds up to the marketing hype.

          The thing with TSX is that the only chips which are guaranteed to support it are Haswell-EX server chips. Some Haswell-EP chips might support it on later steppings but it is hit or miss which chip an end user has. Not all Broadwell chips have it either on the consumer side. Presumably the i5 5675/i7 5775C and Xeon D’s do but that’s it I know off hand (not like there were a lot of Broadwell chips to begin with). Thus SkyLake is really the first instance where TSX can be widely tested, though limited in scope to 8 threads.

            • chuckula
            • 4 years ago

            IIRC mobile broadwell parts don’t enable TSX, but then again it’s not exactly a feature associated with mobile system workloads.

    • auxy
    • 4 years ago

    This is a nightmare for developers whose software needs to use these extensions. “Oh, 6700K? Yeah, it should work, I dunno…”

      • nico1982
      • 4 years ago

      I’m a mobile software developer, things might be different on desktop, but it is bad practice to looks for a specific hardware. You looks for the feature/capability/extension you want to use. If the system report that SGX extensions are enabled, you use it. Otherwise, you take a different path. Which CPU SKU you are running on it is not your problem at all.

        • UnfriendlyFire
        • 4 years ago

        I recall there was a game that looked for specific CPUs to ensure compatibility (minimal requirement was a Pentium III, 500 MHz).

        It was hilarious seeing it recognize an i7-720QM as a Pentium 8 or something crazy, and then flagging the i7 as being a too weak CPU.

        • auxy
        • 4 years ago

        And yet, the situation I described is entirely commonplace… _| ̄|○

    • chuckula
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<]Processors with SGX enabled will have a different S-Spec code for easy identification purposes[/quote<] [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab8GtuPdrUQ<]Just as easy as 0118 999 881 999 119 7253[/url<]

      • anotherengineer
      • 4 years ago

      [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpMvS1Q1sos[/url<]

      • ronch
      • 4 years ago

      Yeah, it’s so simple my dog gets it.

      Oh wait I don’t have a dog.

      • Milo Burke
      • 4 years ago

      I just sung the tune in my head without following the link. Wow. I need a life.

        • chuckula
        • 4 years ago

        [quote<] Wow. I need a life. [/quote<] No Luke... you've already got one!! muhahahahahahhhaahah

        • Meadows
        • 4 years ago

        You too?

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