Intel Quietly Released A Redistributable, Lightweight ME "Ignition Firmware" Binary

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 2 February 2020 at 08:03 AM EST. 16 Comments
Towards the end of last year Intel quietly released an "ignition firmware" for the Management Engine (ME) on their Cascade Lake platform that is also their first ME firmware release to be under a license permitting redistribution.

Back in November Intel released ME firmware binaries for Cascade Lake. This was a new milestone for Intel in that the release marked, "the first time Intel has provided a ME firmware binary under a redistributable license to the public." While the license of that Cascadelake ME firmware allows for redistribution, that license that is the same as their microcode binaries does forbid reverse engineering / decompilation / disassembly.

As for the "ignition" part of the ME firmware, this variant is intended for lightweight chipset initialization and goes without many traditional ME features, but means just a ~0.5MB binary blob rather than around 3MB.

That ME ignition firmware release happened in November but seemingly went unnoticed by most. However, security researcher / developer Daniel Maslowski has been poking at that new binary and presented on it this weekend at FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium.


Those not in Brussels can find the PDF slide deck from his ME firmware investigation.

Meanwhile we're still waiting and holding out hope that Intel will still be open-sourcing the FSP...
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