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Old 01-17-2011, 07:13 PM
Jason Weisberger
 
Default Microcode update AMD

As he said in the previous message, there are almost never changelogs for microcode updates.


I do, however, have to disagree with *never* disabling microcode updates.* If I recall properly, the AMD Phenom II 720 was able to be unlocked to 4 cores via a misconfiguration that enabled it with ACC.* AMD later corrected this issue with a microcode update.* True, some motherboards worked around that fix a different way, but if you had a first gen board with ACC support you *had* to have the old microcode for it to work.* The update killed your free core


On Jan 17, 2011 3:06 PM, <meino.cramer@gmx.de> wrote:> Volker Armin Hemmann <volkerarmin@googlemail.com> [11-01-17 20:16]:

>> On Monday 17 January 2011 18:21:48 meino.cramer@gmx.de wrote:
>> > Hi,
>> >
>> > I have two questions:
>> >
>> > 1) Do I have to enable microcode updates in the BIOS of my Crosshair

>> > IV Formula to activate microcodes push in the CPU by the module
>> > "microcode" ? (AMD Phenom X6 1090T)
>> >
>>
>> you ALWAYS have to activate that! This way the bios updates the microcode with

>> the latest version it is carrying around. Not activating that option is
>> really, really stupid. For many reasons. It is also (almost) completely
>> unrelated to that blob.
>>
>> That blob is for the OS so you can upload an even more recent version of

>> microcode. In case your bios sucks. For example.
>>
>> > 2) Does anyone know, what these microcodes do? They are fixes for...
>> > ...what?
>>
>> the CPU. All CPUs use microcode. For decades. Google, or go straight to

>> wikipedia.
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcode
>>
>
> Cool down. I know for waht microcodes are good for.
>
> My question means: What specific bugs/features of my CPU get fixed,

> when I use the microcde included in the recent microcode update???
>
>
>
>
 
Old 01-17-2011, 07:49 PM
Volker Armin Hemmann
 
Default Microcode update AMD

On Monday 17 January 2011 15:13:54 Jason Weisberger wrote:
> As he said in the previous message, there are almost never changelogs for
> microcode updates.
>
> I do, however, have to disagree with *never* disabling microcode updates.
> If I recall properly, the AMD Phenom II 720 was able to be unlocked to 4
> cores via a misconfiguration that enabled it with ACC. AMD later corrected
> this issue with a microcode update. True, some motherboards worked around
> that fix a different way, but if you had a first gen board with ACC support
> you *had* to have the old microcode for it to work. The update killed your
> free core

a 'free core' that is probably broken in mysterious and hard to find but
nonetheless very dangerous ways. Thanks.
 
Old 01-17-2011, 07:52 PM
Volker Armin Hemmann
 
Default Microcode update AMD

On Monday 17 January 2011 12:12:08 Mark Knecht wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 11:57 AM, <meino.cramer@gmx.de> wrote:
> <SNIP>
>
> > So...why should I try unknown code patched into my CPU.
> >
> > It looks like "install this virus" from the security point
> > of view, doesn't ist?
>
> That was my point.
>
> I think the idea Volker is suggesting is the micro-code updates go
> from AMD (who understands what the issue is with their processor) to
> the BIOS manufacturer (Phoenix or whoever did yous) and get
> incorporated in a secure way. They are 'known good' in the BIOS update
> we receive and write into a Flash drive. It's just a choice whether
> you want to use that part of BOIS or now.
>
> After all, _any_ BIOS update represents an opportunity for someone to
> really mess you machine up. Doesn't matter if it's micro-code or
> something else.
>
> That's my reading of this so far....
>
> - Mark

also the microcode you download is from amd's servers. If you don't that stuff
- you can't use CPUs because they might be loaded with 'hacked' microcode from
the start. Or motherboards, because the bios might be hacked. Or the linux
kernel because maybe somebody incorporated code into linux. gcc and binutils
that looks innocent but combined will kill your machine.

On the other hand, CPU bugs can result in miscalculations. Very, very
expensive miscalculations.

So what is worse - an instable, incorrect CPU or paranoia?
 
Old 01-17-2011, 08:59 PM
Jason Weisberger
 
Default Microcode update AMD

The word "probably" implies that you have no idea what the statistics were on getting a perfectly good core were or why they disabled entire batches of cores based on an error from one.*


You are just overdriving your point.* If he doesn't want to enable updation of microcode, it won't hurt anything.* If it was functioning fine before, it will also be fine without an update.* There is nothing wrong with keeping the version of code that is stable for you.* It isn't stupid, its a good rule of thumb.* If it isn't broken, don't fix it.


On Jan 17, 2011 4:15 PM, "Volker Armin Hemmann" <volkerarmin@googlemail.com> wrote:> On Monday 17 January 2011 15:13:54 Jason Weisberger wrote:

>> As he said in the previous message, there are almost never changelogs for
>> microcode updates.
>>
>> I do, however, have to disagree with *never* disabling microcode updates.
>> If I recall properly, the AMD Phenom II 720 was able to be unlocked to 4

>> cores via a misconfiguration that enabled it with ACC. AMD later corrected
>> this issue with a microcode update. True, some motherboards worked around
>> that fix a different way, but if you had a first gen board with ACC support

>> you *had* to have the old microcode for it to work. The update killed your
>> free core
>
> a 'free core' that is probably broken in mysterious and hard to find but
> nonetheless very dangerous ways. Thanks.

>
>
 
Old 01-17-2011, 10:27 PM
Volker Armin Hemmann
 
Default Microcode update AMD

On Monday 17 January 2011 16:59:26 Jason Weisberger wrote:
> The word "probably" implies that you have no idea what the statistics were
> on getting a perfectly good core were or why they disabled entire batches of
> cores based on an error from one.
>
> You are just overdriving your point. If he doesn't want to enable updation
> of microcode, it won't hurt anything. If it was functioning fine before, it
> will also be fine without an update. There is nothing wrong with keeping
> the version of code that is stable for you. It isn't stupid, its a good
> rule of thumb. If it isn't broken, don't fix it.

the problem is: how do you know it is stable? Just might be lucky that fixed
function was not hit by you so far. But will that be true tomorrow? Next week?
With the next gcc version?

Microcode updates are there for a reason. There are ZILCH reasons to turn it
off in the bios. 'Oh, there are a lots of fine 4cores marketed as 3cores. I want
that' is not a reason not to turn it on. It is a reason to buy a mobo who can
unlock those cores without turning off microcode updates.

Call me old fashioned, but I prefer computers as deterministic machines - and
not very expensive random number generators (which is also the main reason why
I don't overclock. 5% faster for 1% better chance of errors? 5% I will never
ever able to 'feel'? No thank you).
 
Old 01-18-2011, 03:29 AM
William Kenworthy
 
Default Microcode update AMD

On Mon, 2011-01-17 at 20:46 +0100, Volker Armin Hemmann wrote:
> On Monday 17 January 2011 20:19:04 meino.cramer@gmx.de wrote:
> > Volker Armin Hemmann <volkerarmin@googlemail.com> [11-01-17 20:16]:
> > > On Monday 17 January 2011 18:21:48 meino.cramer@gmx.de wrote:
> > > > Hi,
> > > >
> > > > I have two questions:
> > > > 1) Do I have to enable microcode updates in the BIOS of my
> > > > Crosshair
> > > >
> > > > IV Formula to activate microcodes push in the CPU by the
> > > > module
> > > > "microcode" ? (AMD Phenom X6 1090T)

> nobody knows.
>


Not amd, but follow the links for some explanation.

* sys-apps/microcode-ctl
Latest version available: 1.17-r2
Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
Size of downloaded files: 319 kB
Homepage: http://www.urbanmyth.org/microcode
Description: Intel processor microcode update utility
License: GPL-2

* sys-apps/microcode-data
Latest version available: 20100209
Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
Size of downloaded files: 549 kB
Homepage: http://urbanmyth.org/microcode/
Description: Intel IA32 microcode update data
License: as-is

I manually grabbed a later data set from Intel when the kernel would
throw a message about needing a microcode update on my Intel Atom. There
are a couple of kernel options that need setting as well as the above
packages - loading is via an /etc/init.d/ script. There was a changelog
there as well - AMD should be similar. Also, you could ask AMD what the
update fixes?

The bios microcode update is likely an enable setting rather than the
bios actually updating the cpu. You need to do some reading/asking of
the manufacturers (not here) if it bothers you.

BillK


--
William Kenworthy <billk@iinet.net.au>
Home in Perth!
 
Old 01-18-2011, 01:02 PM
BRM
 
Default Microcode update AMD

----- Original Message ----

> From: William Kenworthy <billk@iinet.net.au>
> To: gentoo-user@lists.gentoo.org
> Sent: Mon, January 17, 2011 11:29:45 PM
> Subject: Re: [gentoo-user] Microcode update AMD
>
> On Mon, 2011-01-17 at 20:46 +0100, Volker Armin Hemmann wrote:
> > On Monday 17 January 2011 20:19:04 meino.cramer@gmx.de wrote:
> > > Volker Armin Hemmann <volkerarmin@googlemail.com> [11-01-17 20:16]:
> > > > On Monday 17 January 2011 18:21:48 meino.cramer@gmx.de wrote:
> > > > > Hi,
> > > > >
> > > > > I have two questions:
> > > > > 1) Do I have to enable microcode updates in the BIOS of my
> > > > > Crosshair
> > > > >
> > > > > IV Formula to activate microcodes push in the CPU by the
> > > > > module
> > > > > "microcode" ? (AMD Phenom X6 1090T)
> > nobody knows.
>
> Not amd, but follow the links for some explanation.
>
> * sys-apps/microcode-ctl
> Latest version available: 1.17-r2
> Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
> Size of downloaded files: 319 kB
> Homepage: http://www.urbanmyth.org/microcode
> Description: Intel processor microcode update utility
> License: GPL-2
>
> * sys-apps/microcode-data
> Latest version available: 20100209
> Latest version installed: [ Not Installed ]
> Size of downloaded files: 549 kB
> Homepage: http://urbanmyth.org/microcode/
> Description: Intel IA32 microcode update data
> License: as-is
>
> I manually grabbed a later data set from Intel when the kernel would
> throw a message about needing a microcode update on my Intel Atom. There
> are a couple of kernel options that need setting as well as the above
> packages - loading is via an /etc/init.d/ script. There was a changelog
> there as well - AMD should be similar. Also, you could ask AMD what the
> update fixes?
>
> The bios microcode update is likely an enable setting rather than the
> bios actually updating the cpu. You need to do some reading/asking of
> the manufacturers (not here) if it bothers you.
>

I would be surprised if some if not all of it was not present in the various
Errata documentation for the CPUs that both AMD and Intel publish.
Not sure if you can get much of it for free though.

Ben
 
Old 01-18-2011, 02:38 PM
Paul Hartman
 
Default Microcode update AMD

On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 10:29 PM, William Kenworthy <billk@iinet.net.au> wrote:
> The bios microcode update is likely an enable setting rather than the
> bios actually updating the cpu. *You need to do some reading/asking of
> the manufacturers (not here) if it bothers you.

Thanks for the links, I didn't realize they made the microcode data
available separately.

From Intel's download site for the microcode data:

"The microcode data file contains the latest microcode definitions for
all Intel processors. Intel releases microcode updates to correct
processor behavior as documented in the respective processor
specification updates. While the regular approach to getting this
microcode update is via a BIOS upgrade, Intel realizes that this can
be an administrative hassle. The Linux Operating System and VMware ESX
products have a mechanism to update the microcode after booting. For
example, this file will be used by the operating system mechanism if
the file is placed in the /etc/firmware directory of the Linux
system."
 
Old 01-18-2011, 02:39 PM
 
Default Microcode update AMD

Jason Weisberger <jbdubbs@gmail.com> writes:

> On Jan 17, 2011 4:15 PM, "Volker Armin Hemmann" <volkerarmin@googlemail.com> wrote:
>> On Monday 17 January 2011 15:13:54 Jason Weisberger wrote:
>>>
>>> The update killed your free core
>>
>> a 'free core' that is probably broken in mysterious and hard to find but
>> nonetheless very dangerous ways. Thanks.
>
> The word "probably" implies that you have no idea what the statistics were
> on getting a perfectly good core were or why they disabled entire batches of
> cores based on an error from one.

I think you should worry more about the fact AMD disables known-good
cores due to excessive demand for lower-core versions.

If you can somehow manage to find out if the disabled core is good or
not (keeping in mind that "testing may convincingly demonstrate the
presence of bugs, but can never demonstrate their absence." (EWD1036) -
it's more or less like when you use memtest), then you have a good
heuristic on whether or not to enable that core. Now I doubt I'd do it
blindly - YMMV, of course.


Also,
A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
A: Top-posting.
Q: What is the most annoying thing in e-mail?

--
Nuno J. Silva
gopher://sdf-eu.org/1/users/njsg
 
Old 01-18-2011, 03:16 PM
Mark Knecht
 
Default Microcode update AMD

On Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 7:38 AM, Paul Hartman
<paul.hartman+gentoo@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 10:29 PM, William Kenworthy <billk@iinet.net.au> wrote:
>> The bios microcode update is likely an enable setting rather than the
>> bios actually updating the cpu. *You need to do some reading/asking of
>> the manufacturers (not here) if it bothers you.
>
> Thanks for the links, I didn't realize they made the microcode data
> available separately.
>
> From Intel's download site for the microcode data:
>
> "The microcode data file contains the latest microcode definitions for
> all Intel processors. Intel releases microcode updates to correct
> processor behavior as documented in the respective processor
> specification updates. While the regular approach to getting this
> microcode update is via a BIOS upgrade, Intel realizes that this can
> be an administrative hassle. The Linux Operating System and VMware ESX
> products have a mechanism to update the microcode after booting. For
> example, this file will be used by the operating system mechanism if
> the file is placed in the /etc/firmware directory of the Linux
> system."
>
>
Thanks for the info Paul.

For kicks I tried it on an Intel DH55HC MB running an Core i5-661.

1) Created /etc/firmware
2) Downloaded the Intel microcode-20101123.tgz file
3) Enabled the /dev/cpu/microcode option under Processor Types and Features
4) Rebuilt the kernel and rebooted

I see this in dmesg:

mark@firefly ~ $ dmesg | grep micro
[ 0.495337] microcode: CPU0 sig=0x20652, pf=0x2, revision=0x9
[ 0.495436] microcode: CPU1 sig=0x20652, pf=0x2, revision=0x9
[ 0.495535] microcode: CPU2 sig=0x20652, pf=0x2, revision=0x9
[ 0.495635] microcode: CPU3 sig=0x20652, pf=0x2, revision=0x9
[ 0.495751] microcode: Microcode Update Driver: v2.00
<tigran@aivazian.fsnet.co.uk>, Peter Oruba
mark@firefly ~ $

On this machine the message doesn't change whether the microcode file
is located in /etc/firmware or not so I don't know how to tell if the
process worked but the processor doesn't need any updates or whether
it didn't work at all.

- Mark
 

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