[How to] Update microcode from Windows.

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by Dufus, Jan 21, 2016.

  1. Dufus

    Dufus .

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    A way to update your microcode from Windows should you be stuck waiting for an updated BIOS from the manufacturer and Windows only has old patches. Note that this is a software solution and does not modify the BIOS in anyway.

    Download the VMware CPU Microcode Update Driver from here. For those interested have a read at the linked page also. Extract the contents into a folder of your choice, for this demo we'll call it uCode.

    This driver has been written to use the updates provided by Intel and AMD.
    Intel's microcode update can be got from here. Please check down left column for latest version. Unpack and extract microcode.dat into the uCode folder.
    AMD's microcode update can be got from here. Again unpack and extract files to the uCode folder.

    The installer expects the microcode files to be present even if the CPU it's running on does not need them, ie both Intel and AMD files. Run install.bat from the uCode folder and the microcode files and driver will be copied to the Windows\System32\Drivers folder, the driver executed and micro code updated if the microcode files contain a newer version. If successful you should see the following
    [​IMG]
    The installed driver should have updated the microcode and will now automatically update with reboots. The "uninstall.bat" can be run to uninstall it if not needed.

    Intel may only update the microcode.dat file once every 3 months or so, so what to do if a new critical patch is available but not included in microcode.dat.

    Well we can add for ourselves as long as it's in the same ascii format so that might mean having to convert a binary patch into an ascii patch.

    I've attached a patch for Skylake (SkyLake74) as an example for version 0x74. While the normal microcode.dat file is for many CPU's this one I've converted is only for Skylake and might be useful for those experiencing the freezing / lockup bug. Skylake micrcode is huge compared to previous generations!

    There's a number of utilities that can display microcode version in Windows, my favorite RWEverything, here it shows microcode version 0x1A
    [​IMG]

    Or HWiNFO, be aware though that it only reads the microcode version once during start up so for instance if you have it running then run the VMware utility you will not see it update in HWiNFO unless you close HWiNFO and restart it. Example showing 0x1A again.
    [​IMG]


    So thanks to VWware for providing an elegant solution and signed driver, I use my own driver but unfortunately it's self-signed. :(


    Just a little tidbit, Intel microcode is not an executable, is encrypted so any tampering will lead to rejection and one of Intel's most guarded secrets with supposedly just a handful of people inside Intel knowing how it works. Considering how powerful it is it should be of no surprise.
     

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    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
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  2. SL2

    SL2 Notebook Deity

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  3. pete962

    pete962 Notebook Evangelist

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    doesn't work on my system, tells me "microcode _amd.bin was not found".
    It's Intel system with 4710, microcode.dat file is in the same directory.
    Maybe it's already up to date, my revision is 1c and bios dated 4/13/15, intel microcode file is from 9/15/14 ????
    Actually latest is from 1/21/15 but also doesn't work.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  4. Dufus

    Dufus .

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    No reason, sorry if it's confusing. Those files are going to be updated from time to time, just scroll down the left hand side of the page to find the latest one.

    [​IMG]



    You need all the microcode updates, Intel and AMD. Extract the files from the AMD link in the first post "amd-ucode-latest.tar.bz2" which contain the binary files microcode_amd.bin, microcode_amd_fam15h.bin and microcode_amd_fam16h.bin. Latest Intel microcode.dat to date is Nov 2015 as available via the link in the first post and has rev 1E.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  5. JorgeManuelSilva91

    JorgeManuelSilva91 Newbie

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  6. Robbo99999

    Robbo99999 Notebook Prophet

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    Thanks Both, I used your information here to update my desktop to the latest CPU microcode (BA) in light of the recent Intel bugs uncovered by Debian. I wasn't having issues with my CPU before, but figured I may as well update the microcode in the meantime! If MSI release an updated BIOS that includes the latest microcode in the BIOS, then I'll uninstall the driver that I'm currently using (as described in first post), and then update my BIOS - that way it just feels like a more permanent solution rather than loading a driver (albeit automatically) at each boot.
     
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  7. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    I recently used this guide to update to the latest microcode on a couple of low end office platforms... to μCU level 1C as verified by HWinFO. (Sorry; didn't check what version it was before).

    Can't believe the difference it's made so far. No issues to mention before the update - except the usual - reboots needed for programs to work correctly (after running up to a month or more without one) - lagging and pauses - even with an SSD installed - little glitches (like needing to click or double click things more than once to make the work...) that after 3 days still haven't manifested themselves (yet).

    These systems are now obviously snappier and more responsive. I'll update this thread if the stability/reliability of them is also better too. ;)
     
  8. Robbo99999

    Robbo99999 Notebook Prophet

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    Wow, that's surprising (but good) that an updated microcode has made such a difference in performance! My limited experience with microcode (only since the latest Skylake bug was uncovered) led me to believe that microcode was probably just there to solve bugs rather than increase some performance aspects.
     
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  9. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    I wasn't expecting anything either. But do note I am very sensitive to lagginess and stutters - even when just browsing the O/S. :)

    Note that there wasn't any more 'performance' - just a noticeable snap to the way it responded to my input...

    It actually took a few hours to notice how much more smooth those systems were... but going to any other (identical) platform is obvious which has more 'snap' to me. I'll be updating those systems soon...

    I actually just finished updating to μCU level 1C from 1B on an old notebook with an i7-3612QM, 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD. I thought I would need to reboot to 'feel' any difference, but no; that slightly more 'instant-ness' is there no matter what I do with that old system right now.

    To give some examples: right clicking on the desktop to get the 'context' menu, right clicking on Computer to go into the Manage menu (Computer Management), bringing up Task Manager with CTRL+SHFT+ESC all happen in real time - including opening up file explorer and/or especially network shares are also demonstrably faster to populate - where there could be up to a second or more of lag before.

    I also tried doing so on a small 2-1 (SoC based) system - but I guess there were no updates for that (yet)...

    I can't see a downside to doing this to all my platforms going forward? I'll certainly monitor how those are affected and report back. ;)


     
  10. Robbo99999

    Robbo99999 Notebook Prophet

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    Ah, good stuff, I was gonna say what about placebo, but then I read your paragraph about the "right clicking for context menu", so that's a pretty definitive measure.
     
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