back to article It gets worse: Microsoft’s Spectre-fixer wrecks some AMD PCs

Microsoft’s fix for the Meltdown and Spectre bugs may be crocking AMD-powered PCs. A lengthy thread on answers.microsoft.com records numerous instances in which Security Update for Windows KB4056892, Redmond’s Meltdown/Spectre patch, leaves some AMD-powered PCs with the Windows 7 or 10 startup logo and not much more. Users …

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  1. thames

    Aren't Athlons from the late 1990s to very early 2000s? I'm surprised that given the RAM, graphics, and hard drive requirements changes since then that a PC from that era would run Windows 10 at all.

    1. Steve Todd

      They made Athon CPUs until about 2010

      The Athlon II was released in late 2009, so they are well capable of running Windows 10. MS are skimping on testing again.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: They made Athon CPUs until about 2010

        "The Athlon II was released in late 2009, so they are well capable of running Windows 10. MS are skimping on testing again."

        The MS support thread mentions only AMD CPU models made around 2006-2007. Athlon II seems to be in the clear.

    2. Phil W

      There are even Athlon CPUs on the fairly new AM4 platform, some models released as late as Q4 2016 with more planned this year.

    3. foxyshadis

      The problems are happening on Athlon 64s -- those CPUs that forced Intel to abandon Itanic in the 2000s -- not the ancient 32-bit ones that you could overclock with a pencil.

    4. DRue2514

      I have an AMD X2 which dates from 2009 and it runs Windows 10 pretty well; at least until this patch arrived.

      1. hifitollo

        64bit AMD x2 in full use - before this MS patch

        My family, three generations, use a lot computers which I, as a retired e-professional, maintain and update. We have a lot "older" computers, mostly all six to ten years old, which have been in full use: in working, studying in university and school - depending of the age of each user generation.

        We could buy "the latest" shiny models, but we think that it is more ecologically and naturally also economically correct to use equipment till their end rather than throw them to worlds growing thrash piles. I have updated sw, increased memory, replaced HDD, and made fine usable computers from wrecks or "outdated" business laptops.

        We have a couple of Acer and eMachine laptops and workstations running with 64bit AMD x2-processors, and they have been surprisingly powerfulbb and reliable as compared to new hp:s and lenovos. In normal browsing, streaming, writing - no user does heavy gaming, they have Sony PS's for that.

        I really do not understand, when some people think that these fully sufficient and reliable machines are outdated and should be replaced with new ones - just because Microsoft could not write proper correction code, nor test it sufficiently before sending this "fix" to millions of computers compelled to install all Win10 fixes.

        Or is this a campaign for just trying to sell more new computers (with new Windows licenses) to people, who don't actually need new computers - only they need working windows code in their "old" computers.

        Regards,

        An "old and outdated" grandfather who is pc-support-boy for his large family.

        .

        1. fredj

          Re: 64bit AMD x2 in full use - before this MS patch

          This is far more serious than a few old pcs being knackered. There are big financial costs, time costs and all the rest of it.

          Old AMD machines have a habit of working very well and the are not constantly obsoleted by new wintel software. Mine were running Linux with a windows 10 disc in them for the hell of it and because it was licensed after being brutally updated from XP or W7. Now those old computers are completely useless for anything because I ran W10 to find out something about this problem. Too late, I now understand.

          I can not back update the processors because they will not run. I have seen comprehensive diatribes on how to remove those windows patches. That is as much use as a chocolate tea pot if you can not run windows 10 on your bricked computer.

          This is a disaster. What I need now is a list of old AMD cpus which will replace my bricked ones and are Wintel proof. Hopefully I can buy these second hand for almost nothing and get some work done.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: 64bit AMD x2 in full use - before this MS patch

            I have a bunch of older AMD CPUs here. What are you after?

            Free for postage if it fits.

    5. eaas

      There are Athlon IIs from late 2000s. I wonder if those are affected, I do happen to have one old box featuring that CPU. Will investigate.

    6. Polardog

      No, plenty of modern variations sell in use.

  2. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    athlon

    a quick google search shows that there are 3.5Ghz 64-bit quad core Athlons out there... not exactly 90's tech.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: athlon

      Aim higher. Not 3.5.

      4.4.

      I assembled a machine with one for testing 5 years ago in my previous job. At the time that was the only thing which I could silence sufficiently to run under my desk while still being able to do interesting stuff at 10Gbit line rate in Linux userspace. I had to down-clock it to 3.7 because even the top end Asus motherboards at the time had issues delivering the required power. If you tried to run it at 4.7 it ran, but the board lit the red "power unstable" LED.

      It doubled up as a nice heater for the office in winter too.

      That, however, is not the model MSFT screwed up. They screwed up on the 2007-ish one. I find it surprising that there are beasts like that out there which run Win10 though as most of the motherboards from that time do not fully support UEFI and secure boot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: athlon

        "which run Win10 though as most of the motherboards from that time do not fully support UEFI and secure boot."

        Please don't tell me people *still* think you need secure boot to run Win10.

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          Re: athlon

          Please don't tell me people *still* think you need secure boot to run Win10.

          I think they're the same ones who think UEFI is a boot-locker.

          1. Simon Harris Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: athlon

            "I think they're the same ones who think UEFI is a boot-locker."

            I thought it was in charge of European football.

          2. PaulFrederick

            Re: athlon

            All Windows users are boot lickers.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: athlon

          Please don't tell me people *still* think you need secure boot to run Win10

          Indeed. As my Parallels Windows 10 (formerly Boot Camp) VM can testify.

        3. Dave Bell

          Re: athlon

          I have AMD hardware, and it's a Phenom rather than an Athlon, and I am very glad I don't run Windows

          Because, when I looked this up, the particular core design was sold as both a Phenom and an Athlon

          I am not sure if the afflicted users know or care about such nitty-gritty details, but just saying "Athlon" is perpetuating the confusion, and mistaking AMD branding for a chip ID is putting systems at risk

      2. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

        Re: athlon

        My main machine for the last 7 years or so has been an Athlon II 445 (3 cores at 3.2 GHz).

        I'm in the process of upgrading to Ryzen. Windows 10 runs fine and my motherboard would not know what a UEFI is lol. Only has a BIOS.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: athlon

      Perhaps. I'm typing this on my 3.80 GHz quad core AMD FX-4300 which I've always thought of as an "Athlon" but technically it probably isn't. The official naming gets a bit fuzzy.

      It did however receive the out of band Windows 10 patch and it boots fine and (after checking) it still runs Crysis.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: athlon

        The problem with MS and Windows 10 isn't so much that you WILL get bricked. It's the constant worry that you can get bricked (at any time, no matter how inconvenient). Another example: Not daring to update Windows 7 any longer, just in case it installs Win 10 and ruins your PC. MS really has done a lot to remove any last remnants of trust that one could have had in them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: athlon

          > The problem with MS and Windows 10 isn't so much that you WILL get bricked. It's the constant worry that you can get bricked (at any time, no matter how inconvenient).

          There is always a risk of that. Like getting bricked by a dubious SPI driver in a Ubuntu distro.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: athlon

            But I don't get forced updates on Linux, do I?

            1. eldakka Silver badge

              Re: athlon

              I don't get forced updates on win10 either - thanks to shutup10.

        2. Gerd Stardust

          Re: athlon

          I use GWX Control Panel to prevent the update of Windows 7 to Windows 10. Works very well.

          Security updates of Windows 7 can still be installed. I have 2 PC's on which I had to return from W10 to W7: one for screen problems (screen too small and no native resolution) a second for a blue screen that I couldn't resolve. By the way I don't like the ugly W10 desktop and I installed Classic Shell.

          1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

            Re: athlon

            "I use GWX Control Panel to prevent the update of Windows 7 to Windows 10. Works very well."

            I used it for a while, but Microsoft has stopped trying to sneak in the upgrade. I uninstalled the utility from all my Windows 7 systems long ago and haven't had a problem.

            It's OK to come up for air now.

            Up to you, of course.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: athlon

          "It's the constant worry that you can get bricked (at any time, no matter how inconvenient)" ......

          With Windows 10 you can pause accepting any updates for up to 30 days, delay accepting security updates from 1 to 30 days and delay accepting feature updates for up to 365 days. Though if you choose to defer security updates for 30 days getting your PC bricked could be the last of your worries.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: athlon

            "Though if you choose to defer security updates for 30 days getting your PC bricked could be the last of your worries."

            Paranoia. The vast majority of security issues are related to users running things they shouldn't run. I have yet to see a single virus detected (or stopped at any stage) by MS defender (or whatever it's called) on my machine.

            Being bricked is sort of bad. Oh, Windows is saying it wants to update right now, as I type this! It doesn't say for how long it will disable my machine whilst updating. Nor any hint of the purpose of this update, or the extent of it. Typical arrogant MS.

            As I was planning to actually use the PC right now, I think I'll just tell Windows Update to eff off.

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: athlon

        "and (after checking) it still runs Crysis."

        Is that particular compatibility test for patches known as Crysis Management?

        1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

          At Simon Harris, re: Crysis Management.

          *Holds nose, fans the air futily, & groans in anguish*

          I wish I could upvote you more than once for that attrocious pun. Enjoy a pint on me... and I hope you get told a joke that makes you spit-spray it out your nose! =-)p

  3. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Trollface

    windows forced-update blues

    to the tune of "I Dream of Jeannie"

    Blue Screen

    Here comes another... Blue Screen

    Looks like another... Blue Screen

    Windows forced-update blues!

    Nice! Job! There! Micro-shaft!

    1. wowfood

      Re: windows forced-update blues

      I've had to do a clean install twice due to microsoft updates. And twice I've had to play in the bios because, for some reason, it's changed the boot partition from my SSD to my other HD (don't even know how it does that)

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: windows forced-update blues

        "I've had to do a clean install twice due to microsoft updates. And twice I've had to play in the bios because, for some reason, it's changed the boot partition from my SSD to my other HD (don't even know how it does that)"
        I've had to disconnect all except my SSD to force Windows to install to the SSD. This week I forgot and Win7 installed over my Mint 18.3 partition on the HDD instead of the partition I'd selected!

  4. druck
    Flame

    Redmond office hours only

    "The Register cannot find a Microsoft response in the thread, a reasonable lack-of-reaction given many of the complaints accrued over the weekend."

    If Microsoft schedules patches to be installed over the weekend, they should damn well support users then too.

    1. foxyshadis

      Re: Redmond office hours only

      They don't; this is people pre-patching either out of an abundance of caution, or to be guinea pigs. (The life of a sysadmin.) If this patch goes live on Tuesday, though, Microsoft is in for a whole world of hurt at this rate.

      1. Remy Redert

        Re: Redmond office hours only

        I received this patch on Friday evening, without any action on my part, on one of the PCs in my house.

        I regularly see one or more of the Win10 machines in the household receive patches days before the rest.

        That never happens to the win7 and Linux boxes though.

        1. G2

          Re: Redmond office hours only

          some home PCs are probably selected by MS for selective deployment testing.

          Check the Feedback & Diagnostic settings on those home PCs that receive early updates. My guess is that you'll find them set at either Enhanced or Full feedback.

          1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            Re: Redmond office hours only

            "Check the Feedback & Diagnostic settings on those home PCs that receive early updates. My guess is that you'll find them set at either Enhanced or Full feedback."

            Feedback and Diagnostics comes in "Basic" and "Full". I'm on basic and got it over the weekend.

          2. Remy Redert

            Re: Redmond office hours only

            All machines under my care are set to avoid Microsoft's espionage as much as possible. The machine that received the patch early even runs in a VM with a Linux host blocking pretty much all communication with the mothership because it's the machine I use.

            I've now stepped that up to blocking all communication with Microsoft IPs. I'll have to rely on script blockers, anti-virus and an extremely restrictive firewall to protect my machine, as I can no longer trust their patches.

        2. Schultz
          Thumb Up

          I regularly see one or more [..] machines in the household receive patches days before the rest.

          Welcome to the exclusive Guinea Pig program. You receive early updates with exciting functions -- it's fun for the whole family! I, for one, am grateful that you perform this very important role. Keep it up, and don't forget to yell at MS if you find any issues before Tuesday!

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Angel

            Re: I regularly see one or more [..] machines in the household receive patches days before the rest.

            Welcome to the exclusive Guinea Pig program. You receive early updates with exciting functions -- it's fun for the whole family! I, for one, am grateful that you perform this very important role. Keep it up, and don't forget to yell at MS if you find any issues before Tuesday!

            And at the end, there will be cake!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Redmond office hours only

        I thought this patch was delivered the end of last week. It was disabled unless your AV program updated the registry to show they had tested it?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Redmond office hours only

        "this is people pre-patching " .......

        No. It was an out of band emergency patch aimed at stopping early exploits before the patch Tuesday release.

    2. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

      Re: Redmond office hours only

      You're drinking the wrong kool-aid - yet another "news" outlet actually saying Meltdown and Spectre "are not bugs, all they're doing is abusing the normal function of Intel, AMD, and ARM processors."

      https://www.csoonline.com/article/3245770/security/spectre-and-meltdown-what-you-need-to-know-going-forward.html

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Redmond office hours only

        "You're drinking the wrong kool-aid"

        Someone's got Intel shares, for sure!

      2. Someone Else Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Redmond office hours only

        https://www.csoonline.com/article/3245770/security/spectre-and-meltdown-what-you-need-to-know-going-forward.html

        Why would anyone pay attention to anything the Chicago Symphony Orchestra would say on this matter?

    3. hifitollo

      Re: Redmond office hours only - are the any human people anymore?

      I have managed to discuss with "virtual agens" only, when trying to contact support.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish to thank

    Windows 10 free upgrade users for testing this out for me, and finding this problem. Your work is appreciated.

  6. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Why is it that I could predict these things happening back when Win 10 with forced updates was introduced, but MS couldn't?

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