Intel says Friday’s mystery ‘security update’ microcode isn’t really a security update

False alarm: despite a patch notes suggesting otherwise, that mysterious blob of microcode released for many Intel microprocessors last week was not a security update, the x86 giant says.

In an email Monday, an Intel spokesperson told The Register that microcode-20230512, which popped up on the manufacturer’s GitHub page “does not contain any security updates and the note, [INTEL-SA-NA], is meant to convey that there are no applicable (Not Applicable) security updates in the package.”

The update caught many users attention over the weekend as it affected nearly every Intel CPU going back to 2017. This includes most of Intel’s latest chips, such as its 13th-gen Core-series parts and 4th-Gen Xeon Scalable datacenter parts.

Unfortunately, Intel isn’t being forthcoming about what exactly the patch does. Its purpose was simply listed as “security updates for Intel-SA-NA,” which many, including Phoronix, took to the NA to mean it was a security update with a release advisory “not available.” We now know it meant “not applicable,” and that the update simply contains “functional updates.”

The Register has asked out Intel for additional information on what these updates entail, and we’ll let you know when the silicon slinger is ready to talk.

It’s also unclear whether Intel chose not to patch older parts, or if they’re not affected. We’ll note that Microsoft Windows 11 doesn’t support Intel processors older than 8th-gen, so that may be part of the reasoning behind the deployment.

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