Print 93 comment(s) - last by kalak.. on Aug 8 at 2:42 PM

Developers told not to panic over new Intel Core 2 Duo steppings

OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt publicly denounced Intel’s Core 2 processors on the OpenBSD mailing list. Raadt cited 38 pages of processor errata from Intel’s published CPU specifications (PDF).

“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," Raadt said. "Some of these are things that cannot be fixed in running code, and some are things that every operating system will do until about mid-2008, because that is how the MMU has always been managed on all generations of Intel/AMD/whoeverelse hardware."

Linux coordinator and former Transmeta employee Linus Torvalds, thought otherwise and considers these bugs “totally insignificant.”

Processor errata is nothing new, Torvalds said. Commodity CPUs such as chips based on the Intel Core 2 architecture have a considerably lower bug rate than proprietary boutique CPUs.

“Yeah, x86 errata get more attention," said Torvalds. "But those things are pretty damn well tested. Better than most.”

The errata document specifically mentions the Core 2 Duo E4000, E6000, and X6800 series processors. None of the errata are nearly as insidious or widespread as more infamous problems, like the original Pentium floating-point bug, although some can lead to buffer overflow exploits, claims de Raalt. All of the current errata have patches in the works or can be — and have been — worked around by developers.

In a statement from Intel Global Communications, Nick Knuppfer writes:

“Months ago, we addressed a processor issue by providing a BIOS update for our customers that in no way affects system performance. We publicly documented this as an erratum in April. All processors from all companies have errata, and Intel has a well-known errata communication process to inform our customers and the public. Keep in mind the probability of encountering this issue is extremely low."

“Specification Updates for the affected processors are available at All errata are thoroughly investigated for issues and vulnerabilities, should they have any we fix them, usually through a microcode update.”

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RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By wordsworm on 7/2/2007 3:20:58 AM , Rating: 1
Lucky for him the US is a free country, or else it would have cost him... a 2 million dollar grant. Hmmm.... Maybe by 'free' they meant that people are 'free' to say what they will, while the government et al are 'free' to retribution.

Hopefully Theo's learnt from his mistake, and he won't speak freely on issues such as war.

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By Master Kenobi on 7/2/2007 11:10:09 AM , Rating: 3
By free country, it gives you the right to complain. On that same note however, do not expect people to not dislike you for it. The very same free country gives people a right to their own opinion, be it positive or negative. Criticize someone, and don't be surprised if they pass on you for something you want later. This isn't new, it's normal.

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By mindless1 on 7/2/2007 1:51:17 PM , Rating: 2
No not so normal per se, it depends quite a lot on the ability of those making the decision to think objectively rather than subjectively. Some can rise above their own ego and others can't, then defer to childlike punishment/reward concepts ingrained by parents instead of seeing it as a nonpersonal investment as a competitive business might.

Then again, do we really know that the prior war sentiments were the reason for the grant denial or was this just speculation? I would hope DARPA realizes OpenBSD is not just one man, that some percentage of the population scattered across myriad companies will have similar thoughts.

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By Ringold on 7/2/2007 5:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
One can look at it two ways, I think. From a business perspective, would you do business with somebody who begs for your free grant money at breakfast but spends his lunch protesting your firm and generating negative PR? Absolutely not.

Second way is a professional one. You don't become a vocal critic of those who feed you, ie, your management/owners/boss. Other peoples handlers? Sure. Your own employer? Never. Ranting and raving is unprofessional of him and if he's too immature to act like a rational human being in this situation why trust him with government work? I for one think taxpayer money was protected in this instance as everything about him screams that he's either an attention whore or a shrill political activist, both of which bring me to question his character and worthiness of my hard-earned tax money.

Oh, and if it's normal where you work to be able to rant at your master and not in any way have the working relationship impacted, I'd like to know where this utopia is. ;)

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By Ringold on 7/2/2007 5:21:43 PM , Rating: 2
I like how when I hit "preview" my post shows a rating of 1, and when posted, soon as I can scroll to it, it's at 1 instead of the default 2.

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By mindless1 on 7/3/2007 4:18:14 PM , Rating: 2
You are once again only looking at this as a subjective 1:1 person ego issue. DARPA is not one person nor is OpenBSD.

Would I do business with a company if one person at that company was opposed, if it still made good business sense? Of course, this is common.

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By kalak on 7/3/2007 6:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
Criticize someone, and don't be surprised if they pass on you for something you want later.

Yeah ! Criticize and wait for your country to be invaded !

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By FastLaneTX on 7/2/2007 12:30:17 PM , Rating: 2
Being free to speak your mind is one thing. Expecting people to like you, listen to you, or give you money after you've said it is another thing. There's consequences to exercising your freedom of speech, and there always have been. Retribution would be arresting him for sedition; DARPA merely decided to give their grant money to someone else. That's not a surprising result; how much sense does it make for a military agency to be giving money to people who speak out against the military efforts they support? If you speak out against abortion, don't expect pro-choice groups to be giving you grants either. Duh?

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By mindless1 on 7/2/2007 2:03:22 PM , Rating: 3
OpenBSD is not one man, your "duh" is premature as you are only factoring for an offensive discourse between two immature individuals, rather than two larger groups of people. People can criticize (you, for example, or another) and have it result in a constructive outcome. Pretending everything is great is not always the best strategy, it leaves less room for improvement. Grudges just cloud intelligent decision making.

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By Ringold on 7/2/2007 5:24:54 PM , Rating: 2
He is, or was, a leading figure, and therefore the representative of that group. Groups are commonly judged by their leaders. How else to effectively judge large groups if not by those who they have lead them? For large firms or disparate groups like this there's simply no other way. No need to deflect blame; it's really not that big a deal. He made a bad business decision, it cost him and those he represented, and everybody moved on.

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By mindless1 on 7/3/2007 4:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
Are you claiming you are fairly represented by Bush?

As I've said already, OpenBSD is not one man, it might be common for an individual, even a group of them, to be offended by the actions of one, but it is not sane to let that be the overriding factor. They might have had other legitimate reasons and this was just the nail in the coffin.

RE: De Raadt or the nut?
By Gibby82 on 7/2/2007 5:44:14 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone stop to think that the grant might have been withdrawn for other logical reason? What does DARPA do? They no doubt deal with highly sensitive material. If OpenBSD received a grant from DARPA, one of the stipulations might have been that OpenBSD had to do some research to help DARPA. In that case the OpenBSD folks may have come into contact with sensitive information. Would you want someone so anti-government (or someone spouting remarks like Theo did) to have access to that information?

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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