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Old 01-03-2018, 01:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Intel users, a substantial performance hit may be imminent

A critical security flaw has been found in the architecture of Intel processors, and the fix could slow down your computer by a very noticeable margin.

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A fundamental design flaw in Intel's processor chips has forced a significant redesign of the Linux and Windows kernels to defang the chip-level security bug.

Programmers are scrambling to overhaul the open-source Linux kernel's virtual memory system. Meanwhile, Microsoft is expected to publicly introduce the necessary changes to its Windows operating system in an upcoming Patch Tuesday: these changes were seeded to beta testers running fast-ring Windows Insider builds in November and December.

Crucially, these updates to both Linux and Windows will incur a performance hit on Intel products. The effects are still being benchmarked, however we're looking at a ballpark figure of five to 30 per cent slow down, depending on the task and the processor model. More recent Intel chips have features such as PCID to reduce the performance hit. Your mileage may vary.

Similar operating systems, such as Apple's 64-bit macOS, will also need to be updated the flaw is in the Intel x86-64 hardware, and it appears a microcode update can't address it. It has to be fixed in software at the OS level, or go buy a new processor without the design blunder.

Details of the vulnerability within Intel's silicon are under wraps: an embargo on the specifics is due to lift early this month, perhaps in time for Microsoft's Patch Tuesday next week. Indeed, patches for the Linux kernel are available for all to see but comments in the source code have been redacted to obfuscate the issue.

However, some details of the flaw have surfaced, and so this is what we know.

It is understood the bug is present in modern Intel processors produced in the past decade. It allows normal user programs from database applications to JavaScript in web browsers to discern to some extent the layout or contents of protected kernel memory areas.
Please read the article for an explanation of the bug and why the fix slows down the computer. This is a big deal and it will impact your computer performance, possibly a lot.

AMD chips are not affected by this issue at all.
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I knew there was a reason I've always picked AMD chips, besides cost. Actually no, it was always cost.
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 01-03-2018, 02:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Maybe Microsoft will compensate by pulling back some of the bull shit that males Windows 10 run like shit on older machines despite that its not supposed to.
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Old 01-03-2018, 04:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolene Benoir View Post
I knew there was a reason I've always picked AMD chips, besides cost. Actually no, it was always cost.
I've always picked AMD because I am a lifelong AMD fan. And also, cost.

I certainly had no regrets after finding out that part of the reason AMD chips got a rep for being slower than Intel chips is because Intel deliberately designed its widely-used compiler to make programs built with it run slower on AMD CPUs.
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Old 01-03-2018, 04:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Dakota Tebaldi View Post
I've always picked AMD because I am a lifelong AMD fan. And also, cost.

I certainly had no regrets after finding out that part of the reason AMD chips got a rep for being slower than Intel chips is because Intel deliberately designed its widely-used compiler to make programs built with it run slower on AMD CPUs.
Some of it may have been familiarity as ever since I bought my first modern computer, from those that have been store-bought to made by me, I have picked AMD.
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Old 01-03-2018, 04:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Some of it may have been familiarity as ever since I bought my first modern computer, from those that have been store-bought to made by me, I have picked AMD.
My very first computer - which was a hand-me-down from an uncle, lol - was an AMD. A K6-2, to be exact (it had Windows 98!). So the first time I decided to upgrade with parts, I got an AMD CPU just because of the familiarity really. But since then they've made a genuinely pleased customer out of me.
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Old 01-03-2018, 05:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well. This is gonna suck.

My laptop is a first-gen Intel i7. Our desktop is an Intel Core 2 Duo. My server is a fairly-recent Intel i3. Before these three, I'd always been an AMD girl. The laptop I bought because it was a gaming rig in my price range that I could get my hands on right away. The desktop was built on a motherboard my brother gave me. The server - well, I'm not sure why I went Intel there. I believe it was actually cheaper than the AMD counterparts.

Looks like I'll be replacing a lot of hardware pretty soonish.
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Old 01-03-2018, 06:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Looks like it's time to invest heavily in Qualcomm.
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Old 01-03-2018, 07:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Don't worry too much about this.

Most of the losses come from introduced inefficiencies in context switching. The early testing I've seen suggests it's really more like .1 to 1% slower for most real word use.

The people who have the most to lose are running servers and/or heavy VM users.

Last edited by Gabriell Anatra; 01-03-2018 at 07:10 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 01-03-2018, 09:08 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota Tebaldi View Post
AMD chips are not affected by this issue at all.
The more updates that come out, the more this appears... Basically there's two different hardware bugs that are now being discussed, and while one may be limited to Intel-based systems, the other is definitely not.

Meltdown and Spectre
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Which systems are affected by Meltdown?
Desktop, Laptop, and Cloud computers may be affected by Meltdown. More technically, every Intel processor which implements out-of-order execution is potentially affected, which is effectively every processor since 1995 (except Intel Itanium and Intel Atom before 2013). We successfully tested Meltdown on Intel processor generations released as early as 2011. Currently, we have only verified Meltdown on Intel processors. At the moment, it is unclear whether ARM and AMD processors are also affected by Meltdown.

Which systems are affected by Spectre?
Almost every system is affected by Spectre: Desktops, Laptops, Cloud Servers, as well as Smartphones. More specifically, all modern processors capable of keeping many instructions in flight are potentially vulnerable. In particular, we have verified Spectre on Intel, AMD, and ARM processors.
Time to SHUT DOWN THE INTERNETS.
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Old 01-03-2018, 09:11 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I can't wait to buy a small latte with my share of the class action settlement.
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:20 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I can't wait to buy a small latte with my share of the class action settlement.
I don't know where you get your lattes but of the two tech based class actions I have been involved in (RAM and Printers I think) both paid out like $150-$200. I was surprised.
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I can't wait to buy a small latte with my share of the class action settlement.
Heh... If you get even that much. How much of a settlement was there as a result of the Pentium math bug? I can't remember if that even resulted in a lawsuit.
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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There was one on LCD price fixing that resulted in a decent check a few years back. Given the number of potential class members in this one, and the fact that it is more likely to be a nuisance to users than have a major impact, I would expect the users to see very little from any settlement. The lawyers, on the other hand, will do quite well. Expect a line a the courthouses tomorrow.
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:44 PM   #16 (permalink)
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How many people have an Intel processor? To pick a number off the top of my head, 2/3 of the population?
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:30 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I can't wait to buy a small latte with my share of the class action settlement.
Against all the cpu and os makers?
Because it's looking that way.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:37 AM   #18 (permalink)
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A Linux patch...for the patch...is available on Git, it disables the fix for non-Intel CPUs, so that they are not unnecessarily slowed by the measures that are required to address the vulnerability specific to Intel chips.
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Old 01-04-2018, 06:41 AM   #19 (permalink)
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For reference, the perfomance penalties introduced by the OS-side fixes for the (Intel specific) Meltdown vulnerability will not really be noticable for things like gaming - which makes the rather gaming-centric Intel- and AMD-fanboys warrying over this issue on some other boards quite amusing.


And even if you are using more I/O intensive workload on a workstation, you won't notice this patch if you are still stuck with plain HDDs, as the penalty gets swallowed right up by the shadow of the much larger I/O delay from those old HDDs.
If you are doing I/O intensive workloads on modern systems with SSDs though? Yeah, it will potentially be noticable. :| In some cases, severely.


The other vulnerability, Specte, that affects all modern AMD/Intel/ARM processors though..that one, while less dangerous, will follow us around for a while because it seems that it will require newer compilers and re-compiling of software. I.e. new versions of commercial software as well.
In the case of ARM processors, Google got it fixed in Android in the January security patchset, due to Android apps being Java-based, buuut..good luck with older smartphones, or smartphones by a vendor that doesn't serve updates often...


EDIT:
Also, the bugs have been known among CPU vendors since June 2017, and kernel developers have been trying to find a good solution for over half a year - we are simply witnessing the public appearance of it all, now that the patches are finalized.


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Old 01-04-2018, 01:53 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Microsoft isn't waiting for Patch Tuesday.

After you've read this whole post, if you've got Windows, open Update and look for KB4056892 - that's the security update with the Meltdown kernel patch. If you are using Insider, you got this patch back in November as part of an Insider build. If you are one of those people who adamantly refuses to turn on Windows Update, that's okay - MS has made this fix available for manual download here. You can also download manually from there if Windows Update seems to be giving you trouble getting the patch.

There are a couple of known issues when it comes to this patch - nothing system breaking, mostly to do with being able to successfully install it. Check this page for details and instructions on workarounds. Also, it's possible your anti-virus may not play well with this kernel fix. Your AV provider of choice should soon have a compatibility fix for you to download from them, if they don't already. In the meantime, run your AV scan before you download kernel fix, because you may have to disable the AV for a short time after it's installed. While your AV is disabled, you can use the malware scanner that comes with Windows until your AV company sends you their own compatibility fix.

Do not hesitate to download and install this fix because you are concerned about a performance hit or temporary antivirus problems. You really need to get this. It's important.
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Old 01-04-2018, 03:26 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Although it had not been made public at that time, Intel was aware of the vulnerability to its CPUs when CEO Brian Krzanich sold off $24 million of Intel stock in November, in fact he sold ALL of his Intel stock except for the exact bare minimum he is required to hold by his employment contract.

Intel has said that Krzanich's stock sale was unrelated to the chip security issue and was in fact done as part of a planned stock divestiture policy. However, that policy was created in October, which is still after Intel was informed of the vulnerability (which was back in June). It might be innocent, but the timing is really curious-looking given what has been revealed.
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Old 01-06-2018, 06:24 AM   #22 (permalink)
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An example in the wild. The chart of CPU usage is ... interesting.

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Old 01-06-2018, 06:28 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Good news! We can be saved by all switching over to the Raspberry Pi:

https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/why...e-or-meltdown/
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Old 01-06-2018, 11:11 AM   #24 (permalink)
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And apparently games run under wine are affected by as much as 5-6%.

So it's a good thing I went with AMD this time around. The little 3258 is gonna take it on the chin though.

Oh well.
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Old 01-06-2018, 04:39 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Intel picks basically the worst moment ever to launch its 8th-gen processor, but at least the Vega GPU will be safe.

Also, as noted at the beginning of the article, do NOT read it until tomorrow!
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