TROUBLED CHIPMAKER Intel has admitted that the problems caused by patching the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in its chips affect newer models as well as the older ones it had previously admitted to.
A newly-published blog post by Intel VP and general manager of the Data Center Group, Navin Shenoy, explained that updates to PCs with Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake and the current flagship Kaby Lake processors were just as vulnerable as those packing older Broadwell ad Haswell chips.
The patches have been causing systems to reboot after patching - not just at a machine level, but also entire servers.
Worse still, the predicted slowdown caused by the patching has reduced workload speeds by up to 25 per cent in some cases, despite Intel previously promising that this would not be an issue. This refers particularly to the Storage Performance Development Kit (SDK) which "provide a set of tools and libraries for writing high performance, scalable, user-mode storage applications".
Using SPDK iSCSI caused the maximum impact on a single core. Using SPDK vHost (basically, virtualising it), had no specific impact.
Shenoy explains: "We have reproduced these issues internally and are making progress toward identifying the root cause. In parallel, we will be providing beta microcode to vendors for validation by next week."
Intel has already said that it believes that there are other options that will mitigate the performance drop, most notably Google's Retpoline patch, which is said to have an almost zero impact.
Meanwhile, patches for operating systems as well as unaffected chips from AMD, Nvidia and IBM continue to roll out. These systems are not in serious danger from either Spectre or Meltdown, but in order to protect the world's computers, are having to be patched anyway.
This is causing a certain level of consternation amongst owners of those machines who also risk a performance drop despite not being 'part of the problem'.
Meanwhile, Intel continues its frantic work to fix the issues and will be looking at how to re-instil shaken confidence after a baked in flaw that has been there for the last two decades. µ
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