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Intel Skylake bug seizes up PCs running complex workloads

by Mark Tyson on 11 January 2016, 09:01

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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A few weeks ago a team of mathematicians called the Mersenne Community, came across a bug in the Intel Skylake architecture. When such Intel systems were tasked with hunting for prime numbers, using the Prime95 software, they would reproducibly experience system freezes depending upon the program parameters. The same software "works perfectly normal" on all other Intel processors of past generations, it was noted.

The Mersenne Community have found all the record prime numbers of the last 20 years. It was noted that the handcoded assembly language in use for the last 20 years on tens of thousands of machines running 24 hours a day was only stumbling on Skylake powered PCs. Finding that Intel's latest and greatest processors would freeze systems running applications they commonly use to hunt down prime numbers was obviously perturbing for the mathematicians.

When the problem was reported Intel asked a number of questions about system configurations and so on, so it could replicate the issue and diagnose the problems. The community detailed the application program settings, provided system information, software and component lists etc.

BIOS updates on the way to fix problem says Intel

Four days ago Intel reported that its engineering department had identified the issue which "only occurs under certain complex workload conditions... [when] the processor may hang or cause unpredictable system behaviour". It has released a fix for the issue to hardware partners which will be distributed via BIOS updates for Skylake compatible motherboards. Now users will just have to wait for their motherboard vendors to publish BIOS updates with the Intel fix incorporated.

HEXUS Forums :: 11 Comments

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…..AMD is clapping hands
The Pentium bug was discovered by a maths professor working on primes - coincidence?

(For those too young to remember 1994, a joke at the time was Q “How do you carry out accurate calculations using a Pentium computer?” A “Steady your slide rule against it”.)
Wait for the inevitable disabling of BCLK overclocking piggybacking this update… ;)
Skylake isn't doing too well, first news that they used a thinner material that bends and breaks under the weight of a heatsink ! and now they are unable to do complex workloads… and all for a 5-10% increase in performance over the last gen' haswell chips.
Most processors have a massive list of bugs and errata - normally they are found before release and worked around with firmware. Of course, once released, getting firmware fixes to end systems becomes far more difficult, and also disabling features may have to be done to fix it, which can lead to a lot of anger.