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Intel's Skylake chips have a freezing bug, but it only affects a few users

Intel's 6th-generation Core "Skylake" processors have a bug inside, but it's likely that most users will never encounter it. The issue only comes up when a Windows or Linux-based PC with the chip is performing complex mathematical workloads.

PC and tablets with Skylake chips, such as Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 are affected by the bug, which was discovered by mathematicians while working for tor the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS). Ars Technica received a statement from Intel confirming the bug:

"Intel has identified an issue that potentially affects the 6th Gen Intel Core family of products. 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 says they have created a fix for this issue, and it will be released as a BIOS update via the company's many hardware partners.

Source: Ars Technica

42 Comments
  • So.... A problem with the ALU I presume?
  • Crazy, huh?
  • Wonder if this is what is causing my Surface Book to freeze. Seems to mostly happen when Edge is running, but it is getting kind of annying.
  • Edge isn't calculating any prime numbers...
  • That's what Edge wants you to think. Mwaahaha!
     
  • Yah true, but Windows 10 does have memory compression and it could be there are instances where this compression does math where skylake causes problems. Edge is just a slow browser. It may be the fastest in javascript handling or other things but you load wpcentral and it's crawling, especially in continuum. Google has such a big opportunity to become the most used browser in windows 10/mobile. Though not sure how the API would limit them. They did briefly have google chrome in windows 8 as a universal and it did work pretty nicely.
  • That's a problem with Windows Central and their truckload of ads. I know because I used MVP hosts to edit my host file and serve as an adblocker and Windows Central flies in Edge as do most other websites that are normally bogged down with ads. I'm all for supporting the websites that I like but not at the sacrifice of my browsing ability because of the ads.
  • Did the same thing with mvphosts, also saves your battery life.
  • I have an old pc but if i open 3 new tabs from the news feed it starts to crawl really bad. Even Chrome that keeps the cpu at 100% can handle more tabs than Edge without a 'Not responding...' status
  • Overall, Edge is a very fast browser overall. I only see slowness on a select few pages like this one. I think it has more to do with specific coding either done poorly, or there's certain specific scripts/code that Edge has problems with.
  • They need to have something like a bubble that says "watch an advertisement to support wpcentral" and it can play a 30 second ad. A lot of users would do it. I don't even understand why website even have ads anymore given most users are using an adblocker. And they are using it because ads are a plague on the internet. I mean this site has them everywhere. They need to come up with a better way to serve ads without breaking user experience.
  • Windows Central / WP Central has had a lousy site and app for years. They don't seem to care. I often use it to test browsers as my "extreme" test. If they can handle WC, they can usually handle anything. How long have the links been broken on their app, and they never bother to fix it? Eight months? Even the links in their ad/articles that they profit from are broken on their app and they don't bother to fix it. Their website kills my phone browsers, so if I'm not at home, they lose the sale.
  • I loved how Anandtech did adds (before Anand left).  A few well-placed non-animation ads that typically relatd to the subject at hand was all they needed.  Appreciated it so much that I turned adblock off on their site, and never regretted it.  Even gave a few of their advertisers some business over the years.  Now that he is gone they have let more ads through... but it is still better than most sites.  I wish that more sites were like that.
  • Yeah, let's not saddle Edge with the blame for how ridiculously slow Windows Central is.  Edge does lack features compared to IE and Chrome, so I have moved away from it for the time being.  But I have not found it to be comparatively slow.
  • Windowscentral is definitely slow on the edge browser. On my workstation, it even skips characters when typing in the rich text editor of the site. However, I'm of the belief that it is site specific since the problem does not occur anywhere else. Ultimately, I think other browsers seem faster due to adblock more than the browser itself. Disable adblock on either chrome or Firefox and they bring my workstation to it's knees again with sufficient tabs open. Edge is definitely faster once on the site though. My Gmail experience in edge is ridiculously good compared to chrome or Firefox.
  • I see the same issue (though I doubt it's related). Mine happens primarily when I'm using the surface book by itself. When connected to an external monitor, it never happens.
  • Hopefully is that, because my SP4 freezes the same way on Edge and then after 3-4 seconds it continues.
  • I hate maths and it seems to me that even skylake hate maths;););)
  • It appears you hate English too.
  • It seems you hate international spellings.
  • That is proper British English.
  • Math is not a word. Mathematics is what you're talking about. It's a plural noun (like "dominoes" "physics" etc.) which means if you abbreviate it, it needs an s (like "photos"). You could even argue that a proper abbreviation would be math's ("photo's") but the word is so familiar, we don't need to be alerted to the abbreviation. (E.g. International: "int'l")
  • I was thinking about upgrading. I use complex mathematical calculations while training neural networks. This has me in doubts.
  • Well if it's fixed it should be fine now. But you hear that a lot.
    Still, this is an interesting problem. But it's probably not that hard to solve since they seem to have fixed it so quickly, compared to the graphics driver issues they've been having. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • just wait for the BIOS update. It has been identified and corrected.
  • Happens in all GPU-Z products for me.
  • Yeah i cant update my gpu driver for a freezing bug!! Im still on win 10 first release w8ing for a fix to upgrade to the November update:/ hope they fix this ever!
  • And this is why Microsoft has a problem, they depend on stupid companies like Intel to get processors, same with xbox one, with stupid AMD. if only Microsoft could do everything by themselves they would have the best experience and devices. Microsoft surely have it hard to make hardware like surface pro and especially now with surface book and all it does when base is connected or not and nvidia dGpu or intel one... that even if MS is the operating system maker, it doesn't make them have any special treatment when Intel and other hardware has bugs and then Microsoft needs to wait for the fix. but for the people affected, let's hope intel brings the fix soon for the people affected.
  • Making cutting edge processors is not a simple task - its not just the design of the chip, but the abilty to manufacture it as well. Intel has years of experience with it and still can have issues. Why on earth would MS be able to do a better job than Intel.
  • I use to ***** and moan about how ms should use quality OEMs for various h/w and seeing that intel is in the top 5, I now digress.....
  • Every manufacturer would have that problem.  PS4 uses AMD processors just like Xbox.  Apple uses Intel just like Surface Pros (Macs will be affected by this bug as well).  Even Apple's "custom" A series mobile processors are mostly slightly modified versions of designs licensed from ARM.  They are 90% marketing, 10% engineering, and would almost certainly be affected by any bug that exists in the reference architecture's design.
  • You are wrong. They are 99% marketing, 1% stupidity :)
  • You do know that Apple relies on 3rd parties for ALL of its components as well? Pretty much every single device out there has 3rd party components in it. Why would MS be any different?
  • This would probably be a design flaw in the ALU.
  • Looks like that problem AMD had with the first gen of Phenom processors
  • Who is so old to remember the famous bug on the first Pentium 60, that caused Intel to replace all sold units (I had one) :) ??
  • I was just thinking the same thing... Well without the "old" part...
  • sandybridge was just as bad for enthusiasts
  • I would think it's a UEFI patch, but I guess BIOS patch works since the former supercedes the latter. 
  • "Intel says they have created a fix for this issue, and it will be released as a BIOS update via the company's many hardware partners."
    How can a hardware defect be fixed with a software patch? 
  • BIOS code runs before the OS starts so what Intel essentially is doing is patching the issue in-memory each time the computer starts. The actual hardware issue will always exist for the affected processor, the BIOS just corrects it each boot. This has been a practice for many a year and has fixed a myriad of issues with processors.
  • so would acadamia like myself who use matlab , maple and other mathematics tools on my surface  all the time suffer ?