Sharks swim in Intel’s Skylake

shark-week-2015-promoChipzilla’s great white chip hope Skylake has a bug which causes it to freeze up when it has to add up too many prime numbers.

The bug was discovered by the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) and occurs when using the GIMPS Prime95 application to find Mersenne primes.  To be fair to Intel this is not the sort of thing that most users have to bother about, but Prime95 worked fine before Skylake and there might be other situations where it might break.

A spokesIntel has said that the outfit 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 has developed a fix, and is working with hardware partners to distribute it via a BIOS update.

It is still not clear why the bug occurs, but it’s confirmed to affect both Linux and Windows-based systems. Prime95 has been used to benchmark and stress-test computers, uses Fast Fourier Transforms to multiply extremely large numbers. A particular exponent size, 14,942,209, has been found to cause the system crashes.

While the bug was discovered using Prime95,  GIMPS noted that its Prime95 software “works perfectly normal” on all other Intel processors of past generations.

The bug can be fixed using a BIOS update,