INTEL HAS ADMITTED that its latest 6th-generation Core Skylake processors are suffering from a bug that can cause computer systems to freeze.
The bug, which doesn't yet have a name, was uncovered by German computing community Hardwareluxx.de, and is said to occur in Windows and Linux when the system needs to perform complex workloads.
It was later confirmed by software project group the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), which conducted more tests before presenting its findings to the big boys at Intel.
Intel admitted that the problem occurs when a computer is using GIMPS' Prime95, an application used to test benchmark systems and discover Mersenne prime numbers with at least 100,000,000 decimal digits.
"Intel has identified an issue that potentially affects the 6th-generation Intel Core family of products," the company said in a statement. "This issue only occurs under certain complex workload conditions, like those that may be encountered when running applications like Prime95. In those cases, the processor may hang or cause unpredictable system behaviour."
Intel and GIMPS don't seem to know why the bug occurs but it is said to cause system crashes when Prime95, which uses Fast Fourier Transforms to multiply extremely large numbers, comes up with a particular exponent size of 14,942,209.
But the big worry is that the bug might not just affect Prime95, and that other industries that rely on complex computational workloads, such as scientific and financial institutions, could also be hit. GIMPS confirmed that its software works perfectly well on any other Intel processors.
Nevertheless, Intel has already developed a fix for the problem and is apparently working with hardware partners to distribute it via a BIOS update. Even so, it is likely to be a bit of a headache for the firm, as its client computing group posted Q3 2015 revenue of $8.5bn, down seven percent year over year.
Despite negative revenue for client computing, the chip firm's Q3 revenue of $14.5bn, which was flat year over year, was "above the midpoint of outlook". The firm attributed this to a focus on the IoT for which its dedicated group showed the most promise this quarter, logging revenue of $581m, up 10 percent year over year.
Intel believes that these largely positive financials were helped by customer enthusiasm for the 6th-generation Intel Core processors unveiled last year, although that enthusiasm could soon wane if this bug isn't squashed. µ
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