Mathematicians at the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) discovered a bug in Intel's Skylake architecture that freezes systems during complex workloads.
On either a Windows or a Linux operating system with varying motherboards and RAM modules, the GIMPS community was able to reproduce the issue via the Prime95 application, concluding that the problem was in fact caused by the sixth-generation processor. Using Fast Fourier Transformations, the software can perform multiplications of extremely huge numbers.
According to user Henk_NL on the Intel thread dedicated to the issue, testers can freeze their systems by clicking on the Advanced tab and heading over to Test on Prime95. Apparently, running the particular value of 14,942,209 in the "Exponent to test" box will cause the bug to appear in "minutes or hours."
On the same thread, Intel has confirmed the issue, and the company has a BIOS solution ready to roll out, reassuring users that the bug will be fixed soon enough.
"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 behavior. Intel has identified and released a fix and is working with external business partners to get the fix deployed through BIOS," Intel says.
Initially, it was speculated that this could cause a recall similar to the case of the Pentium FDIV bug back in 1994, but it appears that a BIOS update is going to be enough to fix the problem.
To boil things down, it seems that Intel still has a couple of wrinkles to iron out on Skylake processors, and hopefully, the BIOS patch will do the trick. It's also worth mentioning that this proves that the Prime95 is definitely a reliable stability tester.
Meanwhile, other users focused on tapping the overclocking capabilities of Skylake chips, where some enthusiasts were able to improve the performance of the processors back in December 2015.
User Dhenzjen successfully increased the base clock (BLCK) of a Core i3 6320 from 100 MHz to 127 MHz, marking the first overclocked Skylake processor, whereas the user Elmor produced a Core i3-6300 at 152.6 MHz.
GIMPS founder George Woltman developed Prime95, and for 20 years, the community has identified every Mersenne prime since 1996, producing a list of 48 known primes.
To participate in GIMPS, users will only need a fairly up-to-date computer that can stay on most of the time, time and patience, an Internet connection and the necessary software.
In related news, Intel also introduced the new lineup of Compute Sticks with the Core M3-6Y30 and M5-6Y57 under their hoods at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, revealing how the sixth-generation chips considerably improved the performance of the candy-bar-sized computer.
"A tiny device about the size of a pack of gum, the Intel Compute Stick can transform any HDMI TV or display into a complete computer and improves upon the first generation in processing and graphics performance, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and additional USB ports," Intel says.