Spectre and Meltdown patches are slowing down newer Intel chips too

EnlargeSimon Smith

Now, Intel has has a new blog post up with some more details, and as it turns out, that reboot problem can affect CPUs from the Sandy Bridge series on up to Kaby Lake. We don't know when an official patch for the problem will be launched, but Intel says it will be delivering microcode to its vendor partners for validation next week. The company acknowledges that it still has more work to do because while the patches have mitigated the exposure to security issues, some customers have complained about frequent reboots after the update. "To date, we have tested server platforms running two-socket Intel Xeon Scalable systems - code-named Skylake, our latest server microarchitecture", Shenoy says.

Intel has recommitted to supporting customers as it addresses the Spectre and Meltdown exploits that came to light this month. This means that the performance impact is far from a settled matter. "Generally speaking, the workloads that incorporate a larger number of user/kernel privilege changes and spend a significant amount of time in privileged mode will be more adversely impacted".

Benchmarks measuring integer and floating point throughput, as well as LINpack runs and STREAM memory performance tests and server-side Java, showed negligible difference between patched and unpatched systems, Intel noted. We also see a 4% impact to performance in an online transaction processing benchmark, so things look good there as well. That's a hard thing to evaluate, but we attempted to do so by comparing the performance of four laptops with the latest software updates with their performance when we first tested them past year, before Spectre and Meltdown became known.

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For FlexibleIO, a benchmark simulating different types of I/O loads, results depend on many factors, including read/write mix, block size, drives and CPU utilization.

With the FlexibleIO benchmarks, stressing the CPU fully during writes saw an 18 percent decrease in performance, because there was no headroom for processor utilisation, Intel said. Using SPDK vHost, we saw no impact.

The company has provided more information and additional guidance on this entire episode on its Security Center site.

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