Friday, May 4th 2018

ASUS Begins Rolling Out 9-series Chipset Spectre/Meltdown Hardening BIOS Updates

ASUS has silently began rolling out motherboard BIOS updates for its Intel 9-series chipset motherboards, which provide hardening against "Meltdown" and "Spectre" vulnerabilities, through a CPU microcode update. Intel, if you'll recall, released microcode updates for "Haswell" and "Broadwell" processors this March, but you were at the mercy of your motherboard manufacturer to pass them on to you. The BIOS updates pack the latest version 24 microcode for 4th generation "Haswell" and 5th generation "Broadwell" processors in the LGA1150 package.

A small catch here, is that the BIOS updates are marked "beta" by ASUS, because the understanding is that all 9-series motherboards sold through 2014-15 are EOL, and have probably lapsed warranty coverage, so the company is limiting its liabilities in case BIOS updates fail, or if the platform still ends up "vulnerable" somehow. The latest version of InSpectre confirms that the latest BIOS for the Z97-A, one of the more popular motherboards by ASUS based on the Z97 Express chipset, passes hardening against Meltdown and Spectre, coupled with Windows 10 April 2018 Update. You should find the latest BIOS updates in the "Support" tab of the product page of your motherboard on ASUS website. Here's hoping other motherboard manufacturers love their customers as much.
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22 Comments on ASUS Begins Rolling Out 9-series Chipset Spectre/Meltdown Hardening BIOS Updates

#1
xkm1948
Same goes for the X99 platform. Kinda ass move TBH. Loads of other motherboard makers provided official BIOS releases for X99 with security patch while ASUS gives out beta. Another reason to stay away from them I guess.
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#2
RejZoR
And go with MSI. Which doesn't have anything for X99. Since like 2016...

EDIT:Whoa, holy hairy batman balls, MSI also has BETA BIOS for X99 now. That only took them what, 5-6 months? I got updates for my laptops in December 2017...
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#3
INSTG8R
My Custom Title
Sweet my Sabertooth finally gets some love. Hope it doesn’t bork anything.
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#4
xkm1948
INSTG8R, post: 3837687, member: 4203"
Sweet my Sabertooth finally gets some love. Hope it doesn’t bork anything.
Try it and let us(me) know. haha
Posted on Reply
#5
phanbuey
The MSI update for x299 took forever, but is working pretty good with minimal speed issues.
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#6
INSTG8R
My Custom Title
xkm1948, post: 3837692, member: 50521"
Try it and let us(me) know. haha
Well it scared me a bit as of course it reset everything and wiped my saved setup profile, so of course had to go through every setting and hope I remember everything.
The scary was I was trapped in a BIOS loop. I’m used to selecting my array as first boot. I had to select Windows Boot Manager to finally get back to Windows.
I’ll run some benches tomorrow to see if can detect any performance changes.
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#7
Protagonist
I updated my BIOS on 30th April 2018, the BIOS for my Intel DZ87KLT-75K Desktop Board (8 Series) was released on April 25th 2018, though the BIOS release note indicates it was finalized by March 29th 2018. Does this mean I'm covered, hardened against meltdown and specter?

Check out my screen shots

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#8
xkm1948
Too bad there are new security flaws just discovered and I don't think ASUS would push out another BIOS update for those.
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#9
BadFrog
xkm1948, post: 3837671, member: 50521"
Same goes for the X99 platform. Kinda ass move TBH. Loads of other motherboard makers provided official BIOS releases for X99 with security patch while ASUS gives out beta. Another reason to stay away from them I guess.
I heard that there's a new spectre vulnerability that they are trying to fix/patch now. I think they released the "beta" bios to address the first vulnerability and will issue a final/official bios update once they figure out the new exploits. I am rocking a x99 board (Rampage v Edition 10).

I updated and I was able to drop voltages. seems stable so far (only 3 days in)
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#10
Hood
INSTG8R, post: 3837687, member: 4203"
Sweet my Sabertooth finally gets some love. Hope it doesn’t bork anything.
I flashed my Z97 Deluxe with 3503 (beta) yesterday, and had no problems. After running some benchmarks, I noted maybe a 3% decrease in performance - no big deal, still plenty fast. Nothing like the 10-20% some were claiming from early patches. Seems to run cooler.
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#11
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
xkm1948, post: 3837671, member: 50521"
Same goes for the X99 platform. Kinda ass move TBH. Loads of other motherboard makers provided official BIOS releases for X99 with security patch while ASUS gives out beta. Another reason to stay away from them I guess.
Their beta bios in past have fixed major troubles on certain boards, I wouldn't knock them for actually making it available, AsRock seems to no longer do it..
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#13
Hood
xkm1948, post: 3837671, member: 50521"
Same goes for the X99 platform. Kinda ass move TBH. Loads of other motherboard makers provided official BIOS releases for X99 with security patch while ASUS gives out beta. Another reason to stay away from them I guess.
Read the OP. He explains why these are named beta (because the boards are EOL or out of warranty). Mine was good, as stable as any BIOS.

Arrakis+9, post: 3837814, member: 41759"
No love for the ws boards :(
Looks like the WS boards will all get theirs in May, although I didn't see Z97 WS listed.
https://www.asus.com/us/support/FAQ/1035538
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#14
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
INSTG8R, post: 3837726, member: 4203"
Well it scared me a bit as of course it reset everything and wiped my saved setup profile, so of course had to go through every setting and hope I remember everything.
The scary was I was trapped in a BIOS loop. I’m used to selecting my array as first boot. I had to select Windows Boot Manager to finally get back to Windows.
I’ll run some benches tomorrow to see if can detect any performance changes.
ME and microcode updates usually reboot the machine 4-5 times before you see the splash screen.
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#15
Hood
btarunr, post: 3837865, member: 43587"
ME and microcode updates usually reboot the machine 4-5 times before you see the splash screen.
Yes, 4 or 5 times, and it is enough to make you freak out a little, wondering if it will ever boot into Windows. I had forgotten about that, since my last BIOS flash was 2 years ago.
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#16
johnspack
Here For Good!
There will be nothing ever for my x79 system... except linux patches of course:
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#17
WaroDaBeast
johnspack, post: 3837940, member: 43318"
There will be nothing ever for my x79 system... except linux patches of course:

What is this tool called?
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#18
Hood
johnspack, post: 3837940, member: 43318"
There will be nothing ever for my x79 system... except linux patches of course:
I see one X79 WS board on this Asus page, so maybe more are pending? https://www.asus.com/us/support/FAQ/1035538
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#20
hat
Enthusiast
How does inspectre determine if performance is "good" or "slower" with these patches enabled? Mine was slower, but those with newer systems seem to show good, like Protagonist's 4790k system.
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#22
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Is it just me, or has image-scaling performance across applications been reduced by Meltdown/Spectre patches? Does image-scaling heavily rely on branch prediction?
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