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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 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 !

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