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This how much Meltdown and Spectre fixes slow down your computer

Written by Matti Robinson @ 12 Jan 2018 1:29 User comments (3)

This how much Meltdown and Spectre fixes slow down your computer As companies are trying to recover from what were, and still are, perhaps the most severe CPU bugs in the history of the computer, people are wondering how exactly does this affect them.
Both manufacturers and platform developers have been patching the problems Spectre and Meltdown entail, to the extent that they can be prevented, but there's one new problem that appears after you've patched your system.

See, Microsoft talked recently about how the software patches might make your computer slow down a little bit, and Intel seems to agree. The world's largest CPU manufacturer has released test results on how much you can expect slowing down after the patch.

On Windows 10 machines the overall office productivity performance declines around 5 to 10 percent on Intel's Core chips. The exact percentage depends on many factors including, but not limited to, generation of the CPU, the version of Windows, as well as even the computation type.

On Skylake CPUs, that's the 6th generation of Core chips released couple years ago, the drop is around 8 percent while newer 8th generation chips (Kaby and Coffee Lake) slow down less than 6 percent. Mostly the slowdown was reported in the responsiveness section, which took a hit of up to 14%. The office productivity tests were done with SYSmark 2014 SE.

Intel also lists benchmark scores with PCMark 10 as well as 3DMark Sky Diver which cover better content creation and game performance. Both of those are affected less than the office productivity based SYSmark.

However, if you have both an older Windows and an older Intel CPU the effects might be in a different scale. Unfortunately at this point Intel hasn't got data for 5th gen
(and older) CPU's on older Windows systems. On Windows 7 with 6th gen chips the decline is comparable to newer chips on Windows 10.

Intel has included all the benchmark results here on their newsroom post.

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3 user comments

114.1.2018 04:33

Considering "row hammering" is now a thing, patching this vulnerability is pretty much pointless security theater, sad to say, until new DRAM hits the market, for any PC that's been built since 2010:

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 14 Jan 2018 @ 4:33

214.1.2018 12:05

Yeah, there are other easier attacks, especially on Windows, but the potential of an attack that would use one of these bugs is actually pretty serious. In theory it could read memory used by the OS, decode it, and then present itself as a system process with full rights, even bypassing corporate security software that would prevent the user from doing certain things.

For Microsoft, the security difference would be minimal if not for the press coverage...I mean, their own Windows Defender is a joke.

For Intel, this is a big deal. They are not used to being an attack vector. Heck, they put in back doors to all their processors because they were so confident. It appears they thew together a slapdash patch to cover the hole. I hope they are working on a version 2, because the performance hit is a lot more than 10% in some cases.

I'm guessing there are some very tired engineers at Intel (on a Sunday) who just had to scrap their work on the next-gen core to create something actually new. Just think...and actually new chip design from Intel! Maybe they will try increasing performance for software that doesn't use 36 threads!

314.1.2018 12:56

Row hammering can gain better access for a process than the OS enjoys. There literally is no worse possible security outcome. It's also been out longer, and there already are exploits coded for it ^^'.

Until row hammering is fixed, this is security theater for all PCs made since 2010 or so, nothing more ^^'.

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