Official statement on x86_64 architecture security flaws

Many of you that use x86_64 computers are likely concerned with the various security flaws that have been discovered in the silicon of virtually all 64-bit Intel CPUs this year. There have also been a few requests for packaging official microcode updates.

Unfortunately, the EULA required to install, use, and redistribute these microcode updates is non-free. Intel has ensured that providing these updates to you would cause us to violate US and European copyright and contract laws.

As further security flaws are inevitable due to the design of the x86_64 architecture, and we cannot legally provide you with the updates necessary to avoid these flaws, we highly recommend that our users invest in computers using different architectures, such as PowerPC or ARM. While the x86_64 architecture will continue to be a Tier 1 architecture for the foreseeable future, we can no longer guarantee user security or data integrity to users using x86_64 computers with Intel processors due to Intel’s restrictive licensing.

Editor’s note: The original version of this statement included the following statement: Furthermore, Intel has added a stipulation in the EULA for their latest microcode update that renders their CPUs non-free, by forbidding any usage of software that they arbitrarily determine to fall under “benchmarking”. This includes tools such as hdparm. Intel has since removed this clause from their license; however, the microcode itself is still non-free and we cannot distribute it.

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