Intel is collecting legacy hardware for security research

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,758   +140
Staff member
The big picture: Intel for the past few years has been collecting and cataloging its legacy hardware at a warehouse in Costa Rica, but not for a museum or other historical purpose. To ensure that customers across generations of hardware are protected against newly discovered attacks, Intel needs examples of its older hardware on hand to test with. As it turns out, this was a bit of a challenge for a while consider the company didn’t have a formal method of cataloging and storing legacy hardware until recently.

The chipmaker churns out lots of new and updated hardware each year, but most consumers don’t upgrade to the latest and greatest with each subsequent release. This creates a trail of legacy products that remain in active use in the wild, all of which are vulnerable to various security weaknesses.

Mohsen Fazlian, general manager of Intel’s product assurance and security unit, told The Wall Street Journal that some pieces of hardware were so scare within Intel’s walls that they had to turn to eBay to secure used examples.

Intel’s second-gen Core processor family, codename Sandy Bridge, was cited by name. The microarchitecture launched in early 2011 before being discontinued in the latter half of 2013.

Intel’s Long-Term Retention Lab opened in the second half of 2019, playing host to some 3,000 pieces of legacy hardware and software dating back roughly a decade. At any given time, roughly 25 employees are on hand at the facility, ready to assemble a machine to meet an Intel engineer’s request and make it accessible via the cloud for remote testing.

A lab manager told The Journal that they get around 1,000 requests to build systems per month, and receive around 50 new pieces of hardware each week. Next year, Intel plans to double the warehouse space to house roughly 6,000 parts.

Intel could learn a thing or two from Nintendo. Back in 2016, the Japanese gaming giant revealed it has mint condition hardware stored at its headquarters that is decades old at this point.

Image credit Fritzchens Fritz

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Aceseven

Posts: 159   +230
How do you make millions maybe billions of these chips and not have any on-hand?

you'd think the massive company that produces the damn things would actually keep alot on hand, I guess not though.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 738   +538
How do you make millions maybe billions of these chips and not have any on-hand?

you'd think the massive company that produces the damn things would actually keep alot on hand, I guess not though.
Probably because it's an octopus - there's a heaps of movies/tv shows out there based on this - I thought you put the baby in the car , no I thought you .
I suppose if you see a new business you have high hopes in - and it starts of with a limited run first edition - you could always mothball it for your grandsons mother to throw it away
 

lripplinger

Posts: 306   +116
This article needs some serious editorial standards. The amount of grammatical errors and laziness in general....
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 624   +500
My Sandy Bridge security research ended in 2014

2014 was the last time I ever had a malware problem running Windows XP-SP2 online without any MS security updates in a Full Admin Account

Yes, I am STILL running XP-SP2 online (Native Boot / No VM) and without any security updates after nearly 8 years without a single malware problem

I also boot directly to Windows 11 Pro on the same machines

Microsoft / Intel and NSA's security research is pretty Lame compared to a real professional like myself

That's not just ego talking!
Thems iz the Facts!
 
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Ojref

Posts: 6   +10
Intel maintains examples of every spin and iteration of silicon produced from every fab going back to the 4004. Its all archived. This effort wouldn't seem to make sense, unless they are actually looking at the states of products that have been in use in the field over time.