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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 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.

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