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Intel’s New Core processors cannot play 4K Blu-rays

After an announcement by the software company Cyberlink, a well-known but rarely noticed problem with Intel processors has flared up again. The chipmaker’s current 11th and 12th core generations are not capable of playing high-resolution Ultra HD Blu-rays. The reason for the lack of support for 4K Blu-rays is the Software Guard Extensions (SGX) that have been removed since the introduction of Intel’s Rocket Lake processors (11th generation for desktop PCs). They allow the US manufacturer according to a “hardware-based encryption of memory contents that isolates certain program code and data in memory.” They are used to create secure enclaves in which sensitive information can be stored.

SGX technology removal due to security concerns

Due to various exploited vulnerabilities (e.g. load value injection attacks), Intel decided to no longer offer its SGX enclave for private customers. A firmware lock has disabled the feature since the 11th generation Core i for notebooks (Tiger Lake), while the physical components are no longer present in desktop processors from the current Rocket Lake and Alder Lake families (12th generation).

The problem: The SGX function is required in addition to an HDMI connection with HDCP 2.2 and the support of the copy protection AACS 2.0 for the digital rights management (DRM), a requirement for the playback of Ultra HD Blu-rays. Since the responsible Blu-ray Disc Association does not seem to be planning to adjust the requirements, users of the 11th and 12th Intel Core generation will have to accept that playing high-resolution Blu-rays will not be possible.

Due to possible driver-side SGX locks for Windows systems, the PowerDVD developer CyberLink recommends drastic and security-critical measures. In his FAQ reads: “For users who are running an older compatible platform and want to continue enjoying Ultra HD Blu-ray playback compatibility on PC and with PowerDVD, we suggest that they continue to use the 7th to 10th generation Core i series of Intel CPUs and motherboards that support the Intel SGX feature.You should also consider not updating the operating system (e.g. upgrade to Windows 11) and associated Intel drivers to the latest versions, so that the Intel SGX feature is not removed from your PC.”

Compatibility with AMD Ryzen CPUs

Users of AMD processors should know that they do not rely on the SGX function introduced by Intel, but on their own solution called Secure Memory Encryption and Secure Encrypted Virtualization. Thus, the Ryzen chips have never been able to play 4K Blu-rays ex works. However, an exception was granted for the AMD hardware-based Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 (PS5) consoles.

Alexia Hope

Alexia is the author at Research Snipers covering all technology news including Google, Apple, Android, Xiaomi, Huawei, Samsung News, and More.