Some Intel Processors Could Crash Systems With Hyperthreading Enabled

July 21st, 2017

If you’re using a machine with a Skylake or Kaby Lake Intel processor, you should know that under certain conditions, it may be prone to crashing if hyperthreading is enabled.

The problem was never formally announced, mostly because what bug reports were released on the topic were spotty and inconsistent. So far, at least, no one seems to be able to pin down what the precise conditions are that cause the crash, resulting in a small subset of bug reports that are highly inconsistent and paint an unclear picture of exactly what the root of the problem is.

In any case, there are three things to note.

Linux users are in luck. Microcode updates are available that address the issue on those machines.

Windows 10 users are out of luck, at least so far. The latest Wintel Microcode updates don’t seem to include the fix, and there’s been no mention, at least to this point, of when that might change.

That brings us to the third major point. For the time being, if you’re using a Wintel machine with either of the processors mentioned above, the best way to ensure you don’t have to worry about the crash problem is to disable hyperthreading.

On the other hand, the crash bug has only happened in a few, widely scattered cases, as evidenced by the spotty and inconsistent bug reports surrounding the issue.

Because of this, many, if not most users will likely opt to simply do nothing and take their chances. In any case, being forewarned is bring forearmed. Even though the crash bug is quite rare, it’s better to know about it and know the decisive fix (at least until a more permanent, Microcode fix is release), so you can make an informed decision as opposed to being caught unaware.

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