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Skylake Bug Could Crash Your CPU: Here's How To Check If Your PC Has It

13 January 2016, 6:28 am EST By Horia Ungureanu Tech Times
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Intel recently announced that although a number of high-end Skylake CPUs have a tendency to freeze under "complex workload conditions," a fix is now in tow.

Following initial reports targeting only Core i7-6700K desktop CPUs that used Hyper-Threading, Intel explained that more CPUs are vulnerable to the lock-up.

Several forums and IT communities reported the bug during the last period, and tech savvy users replicated the error using Prime95. The software, which is highly popular within the performance and overclocking community, calculates prime numbers by doing highly complex and processing-intensive calculations.

"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," an Intel community manager acknowledged.  

While some focused on tracking the bugs in the Skylake chips, some users made the best of the new generation of Intel CPUs and jumped in the overclocking bandwagon.

The CPU manufacturing company further added that it's working closely with third-parties to deliver a fix through a BIOS upgrade.

Testing out the Skylake bug

For procrastination fans out there, here's how you can still do something useful, such as detecting if you're vulnerable to the Skylake bug.

First, go to this website and get Prime95, version 28.7. Then, simply unpack the archive into a folder.

If you use the 28.7 variant of Prime95, create a Notepad text file in the folder where you unpacked the archive. Just make sure that the mouse pointer is inside the Prime95 folder, right-click and go to New, then hit Text Document.

Name the text document the title "local.txt." Open it with Notepad and type the following line:

"CpuSupportsFMA3=0."

Save the modified text file in the Prime 95 folder.

This new file tells the software to use AVX while hunting for the bug. The latest version of Prime95 uses AVX2 as a default way of searching for bugs, and the Skylake bug appears only under AVX.

Double-click Prime95.exe to start the software. When the dialog box pops-up, dismiss it and click on the "Just Stress Testing".

Another dialog box pops up in order to Run a Torture Test.

Find the Custom button, select it and go to the Torture Test Settings menu. Once you're there, modify the Min FFT size (calculated in K) to 768, and make sure that Max FFT size (still in K) is 768. 

Check the box next to Select Run FFs in-place. Go to the run time and assign at least 120 minutes for the Torture Test. To begin the test itself, simply click OK.

As the saying goes, "now, we wait."

Most tests showed that the problems appear at the high-end desktop SoC i7-6700K, but Intel silently admitted that other CPUs could be in the same situation.

It should be noted that Prime95 gives a severe punishment to your CPU's processing power. If you run Prime 95 on an overclocked system, the results may be inconclusive as the overclocking might make the CPU unstable.

In other words, running the test on a PC with default settings is recommended, as it makes sure that the processor is analyzed correctly.

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