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thex
2 Bronze

XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

Hey I have a question concerning the Bios updates which are currently rolled out to fix the Intel CPU microcode concerning Meltdown and Spectre.

XPS14/15 L421x / l521x did already get Bios updates which fix the security issues. Are there any plans to also release a Bios update for the previous series L502x/L501x/L702x because there is nothing stated on the offical help page: http://www.dell.com/support/contents/de/de/19/article/product-support/self-support-knowledgebase/sof...

or

http://www.dell.com/support/article/de/de/dedhs1/sln308587/microprocessor-side-channel-vulnerabiliti...

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12 Replies
jphughan
5 Rhenium

Re: XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

The CPUs in those systems may be old enough that they don't include the speculative execution feature that led to Spectre, or Intel simply may not have developed fixes for older CPUs.  After the first wave of Spectre fixes were released and found to sometimes cause spontaneous reboots, Intel released another update but may not have covered every model.  However, Windows actually has the capability to patch CPU microcode on the fly in the kernel, at least for Windows 10 (not sure about older versions), they now have patched microcode available for a long list of Intel CPUs, which provides equivalent protection to having patched it in the motherboard firmware.  You can read about that here.

As for Meltdown, that vulnerability did not require CPU microcode to fix; that was always fixable purely in software, and Microsoft patched that vulnerability in January 2018.

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thex
2 Bronze

Re: XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

As the L502x in my case has a 2nd Gen i7 it support speculative execution and also the micro code releases of Intel suggest that because my CPU is listed there. Moreover the Microsoft provided checks show that I don't have hardware protection in the current situation without the Bios update. So I have to ask my question again, does my Laptop XPS15 L502x get a Bios Update or not. Because it is vulnerable to the hardware security issue of the Intel CPU it contains.

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thex
2 Bronze

Re: XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

I have never ever read anywhere that the Windows 10 Kernel will include the micro code fixes for Intel CPUs. Can you please provide me an official cite were this is stated. Also the official microsoft tool and the link you provided indicates that there is a necessity to update the firmware / bios on the hardware side. The microcode fixes are only included on Linux but not really on Windows. Didn't read anything concerning this officially by Microsoft.

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jphughan
5 Rhenium

Re: XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

Hopefully you get an official answer about BIOS updates, but frankly if you haven't seen one by now, I wouldn't bet on it.  I don't know if that's because Intel didn't develop updated microcode or Dell decided not to test it and provide an updated BIOS, but the initial (flawed) Spectre patches started arriving back in January, so if you still haven't seen even an initial patch for that, it's pretty late in the game.

As for Windows patching Intel microcode, this list has been expanding from newest to oldest, so they may eventually get back to your CPU, but they're not yet.  But it does exist: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4090007/intel-microcode-updates

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thex
2 Bronze

Re: XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

Hello and thanks for your reply,

after I answered your post I found out myself that 6th - 8th Gen Core CPU microcode can be patched via Windows update and this is also done like you said. I completely missed that update so you were right and I was wrong :). Sorry for the confusion concerning Spectre and Meltdown but I didn't keep track which one is fixable via update and which is fixable via firmware, so I summed it up under both terms.

Maybe Microsoft will also provide a microcode kernel update for older Intel CPUs but I'm not sure if this will happen or not. I didn't found an information on that. However it would be better if Dell as manufacturer fixes Spectre via Bios because this would make it independent of the OS running on the machine. But it might be the case that Dell hasn't started to release a Bios because the work on the Ivy/Sandy Bridge microcode isn't finished that long ago. It was first listed as production in the March Microcode Revision Guidance from Intel. As you can see in the following link, they both received microcode updates from Intel:

April:

https://newsroom.intel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2018/04/microcode-update-guidance.pdf

March:

https://newsroom.intel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2018/03/microcode-update-guidance.pdf

So I'm looking forward on an answer from Dell stuff which clarifies if we will get Bios updates for machines which run these CPUs (2nd/3rd Gen Core - Sandy/Ivy Bridge).

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thex
2 Bronze

Re: XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

/push - still demanding an answer from Dell

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arpitchauhan
1 Copper

Re: XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

I'm looking for an update from Dell too.

Is there a way to contact Dell and ask for a resolution?

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Dexter1983
1 Copper

Re: XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

Send me service tag, i will download the correct bios and update microcode inside if you want for you, l502x and l702x tested

Cheers

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thex
2 Bronze

Re: XPS L502x - Spectre / Meltdown Fix - Bios Update

@Dexter1983Thanks for your help and answer. Sorry for my late reply, the latest bios version for the L502x can be found here:

https://www.dell.com/support/home/at/de/atbsdt1/drivers/driversdetails?driverId=0VRMP

If you want and have the time to update the microcode that would be awesome. But even more awesome would be if you can provide me some sources on how to modify the bios myself :). Not that I don't trust you however if something is messed up I'm responsible myself.

However I would also appreciate both (source + update bios).

regards and thanks in advance!

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