Microsoft admits there will be an impact on Windows performance from the Specter and Meltdown patches

Now in the middle of CES 2018, when the reflectors have taken a turn towards the novelties of the fair and have left a little aside the vulnerabilities caused by Specter and Meltdown, is when the affected brands are taking the opportunity to adjust the discourse by revealing details that they had initially minimized.

Yesterday it was Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, who offered no apologies or guarantees that it will not happen again, come on, he only dedicated about two minutes to this case and the show continued. Today is the turn of Microsoft, who is admitting that the updates that will mitigate the risks of Specter and Meltdown they will affect the performance of Windows.

PCs prior to 2015 will be the most affected

Without giving specific figures, Microsoft issued a new statement detailing the effects on the performance of Windows computers to the mitigations that will be implemented to prevent attacks via Specter and Meltdown:

  • With Windows 10 on newer processors (2016 PCs with Skylake, Kabylake, or newer CPUs), benchmarks show single-digit slowdowns, but we don’t expect most users to notice a change because these percentages are reflected in milliseconds. .

  • With Windows 10 on older processors (2015 PCs with Haswell or older CPUs), some benchmarks show bigger slowdowns, and we expect some users to notice a decrease in system performance.

  • With Windows 8 and Windows 7 on older processors (2015 PCs with Haswell or older CPUs), we expect most users to notice a decrease in system performance.

  • Windows Server on any processor, especially intensive applications, there will be a more significant performance hit here when mitigations are enabled to isolate untrusted code within an instance of Windows Server. That’s why care must be taken to assess the risk of untrusted code for each instance of Windows Server and balance the security trade-off against the performance of the overall environment.

That is to say, the most affected will be users with computers from 2015 onwards, in addition to Windows Server users will see performance significantly impacted when processing power is needed. It should also be noted that Microsoft does not mention anywhere details about the impact on AMD processors, focusing only on the Intel family.

Now, if we go to what other analysts say, we will see for example that in the case of The Register, who were the first to warn of the design failure in the processors, they assure that this performance impact will be between 2 and 14%.

And now it admits there is a 2-14% hit. Red Hat reckons 1-20%. Microsoft today warns of an impact.

– The Register (@TheRegister) January 9, 2018

On the other hand, Red Hat also does not give figures but does mention that there will be a significant decrease in device performance, especially in those that require complex work:

“Speculative execution is a technique of optimizing performance, therefore, these updates (both kernel and microcode) can cause a degradation in performance depending on the workload.”

In Engadget | How to update all your operating systems and browsers to stop Meltdown and Specter