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Intel backtracks after users fume over microcode benchmarking ban

CHIP GIANT INTEL has changed the terms and conditions of a clause found in its latest microcode update after sparking controversy among industry folk.

It all started when the company released a new set of speculative execution microcode updates, which were meant to try and mitigate the new Foreshadow chip vulnerability.

Just like with the Spectre patches that were released earlier this year mitigating the same type of vulnerabilities, Intel’s Foreshadow patches looked as though they’d probably stifle the performance of affected chips.

However, on Thursday, the firm acknowledged it had caused somewhat of a stir after nerd site KitGuru exposed its T&Cs as attempting to prevent users from performing comparison benchmarks between older microcode updates and the new Foreshadow patch, so they couldn’t prove how much the patch had affected the chips’ performance. Guilty as charged. 

After being found out, Intel promised to update the license and got in touch with KitGuru with a statement, as well as access to a new version of the T&Cs.

“We have simplified the Intel license to make it easier to distribute CPU microcode updates and posted the new version http://bit.ly/2w9RjtM,” an Intel spokesperson said, while also reiterating a previous statement sent before the updated T&Cs:

“As an active member of the open source community, we continue to welcome all feedback and thank the community.”

In case you were wondering, the original and controversial T&Cs statement was as follows:

“You will not, and will not allow any third party to (i) use, copy, distribute, sell or offer to sell the Software or associated documentation; (ii) modify, adapt, enhance, disassemble, decompile, reverse engineer, change or create derivative works from the Software except and only to the extent as specifically required by mandatory applicable laws or any applicable third party license terms accompanying the Software; (iii) use or make the Software available for the use or benefit of third parties; or (iv) use the Software on Your products other than those that include the Intel hardware product(s), platform(s), or software identified in the Software; or (v) publish or provide any Software benchmark or comparison test results.”

The new license edits these five “commandments” down to just three and also lays them out in a more accessible manner.

The altered text also states that “redistribution and use in binary form, without modification, are permitted” but the following conditions must be met:

1. Redistributions must reproduce the above copyright notice and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

2. Neither the name of Intel Corporation nor the names of its suppliers may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

3. No reverse engineering, decompilation, or disassembly of this software is permitted. µ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 'Professional Hackers India'. Technology Evangelist, Security Analyst, Cyber Security Expert, PHP Developer and Part time hacker.

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