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Intel Excludes Older CPUs from Spectre Updates

Well, we always knew that Intel wasn’t going to go back to the beginning of time in crafting microcode updates to address Spectre Variant 2. Now we know more about what’s in and what’s out, where such coverage is concerned. On April 2, Intel updated its “Microcode Update Guidance” document (PDF). This spells things out pretty clearly (look for changes on those charts in yellow). That why saying “Intel excludes older CPUs from Spectre updates” sums things up nicely.

When Intel Excludes Older CPUs from Spectre Updates, What’s Out?

According to the afore-linked charts, newly-added Spectre v2 updates include:

  • Lynnfield (Core and Xeon: CPUID 106E5)
  • Nehalem EP, WS & EX (Xeon: CPUIDs 106A5 & 206E6)
  • Arrandale (Core and Celeron: CPUIDs 20652 & 20655 )
  • Clarkdale (Core, Pentium and Xeon: CPUID 20652 & 20655)
  • Westmere (Xeon processors: CPUIDs 206C2 & 206F2)

And per those same charts, update work on the following processors has been stopped:

  • Bloomfield (Core & Xeon: CPUIDs 106A4 & 106A5)
  • Jasper Forest (Celeron and Xeon: CPUID 106E4)
  • Clarksfield (Core: CPUID 106E5)
  • Harpertown (Xeon: CPUIDs 10676 & 1067A)
  • Penryn/QC (Core 2, Pentium, and Celeron: CPUID 1067A)
  • Sofia 3GR (Atom processor: CPUID 506D1)
  • Wolfdale CO, EO, MO, RO (Core 2 Duo, Pentium, Celeron and Xeon: CPUIDs 10676 & 1067A)
  • Yorkfield (Core 2 and Xeon: CPUID 10677)
  • Gulftown (Core and Xeon: 206C2)

Making Sense of the Data Using Code Names

There are tools abounding that will tell you about your CPUs. My two favorites are Franck DeLattre’s CPU-Z and the Intel Processor Identification Utility. CPU-Z provides code names explicitly, like so:

Intel Excludes Older CPUs from Spectre Updates.cpuz

CPU-Z offers up a field named Code Name that identifies the CPU as Skylake directly

The Intel utility doesn’t map processor names to the code names for matching what you’ve got up with the preceding data (and Intel’s charts). You’ll have to go from the make and model information to figure things out. Thus for example, the Intel tool reveals that my machine has an i7-6700 installed.

Intel Excludes Older CPUs from Spectre Updates.ipiu

The key information appears in bold near the top of this display: i7-6700.

Next, I can search on “i7-6700” for its ark.intel.com page, which tells me its code name is Skylake.

The code name shows up in the first column of the Intel charts. This is the key, and how you reconcile what’s in your machines with that coverage information.

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