Intel says that performance impact of the Spectre fix can be as much as 25% for some workloads



Last week, Microsoft published its initial report on the performance impact that will be seen on the Windows PCs after installing the Meltdown and Spectre security issue related fixes. Microsoft said that PCs running Windows 10 on newer silicon (2016-era PCs with Skylake, Kabylake or newer CPU) will see single-digit slowdowns and most users will not notice it because these percentages are reflected in milliseconds. Later, Intel published their own results after testing the performance impact of their security fixes with almost same numbers.

Today, Intel published more information on the progress they have made regarding the release of fixes for these issues and the performance impact of these fixes during server workloads.

While Intel has now issued firmware updates for 90 percent of Intel CPUs introduced in the past five years, some customers have reported more frequent reboots on firmware updated systems. Intel is now investigating these issues and working on fixes for the same. Intel also said that these fixes may cause up to 25% performance impact on certain server workloads. Read the summary on performance impact below.

  • Impacts ranging from 0-2% on industry-standard measures of integer and floating point throughput, Linpack, STREAM, server-side Java and energy efficiency benchmarks. These benchmarks represent several common workloads important to enterprise and cloud customers.
  • An online transaction processing (OLTP) benchmark simulating modeling a brokerage firm’s customer-broker-stock exchange interaction showed a 4% impact. More analytics testing is in process and the results will be dependent on system configuration, test setup and benchmark used.
  • Benchmarks for storage also showed a range of results depending on the benchmark, test setup and system configuration:
    • 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. When we conducted testing to stress the CPU (100% write case), we saw an 18% decrease in throughput performance because there was not CPU utilization headroom. When we used a 70/30 read/write model, we saw a 2% decrease in throughput performance. When CPU utilization was low (100% read case), as is the case with common storage provisioning, we saw an increase in CPU utilization, but no throughput performance impact.
    • Storage Performance Development Kit (SPDK) tests, which provide a set of tools and libraries for writing high performance, scalable, user-mode storage applications, were measured in multiple test configurations. Using SPDK iSCSI, we saw as much as a 25% impact while using only a single core. Using SPDK vHost, we saw no impact.

Learn more about the performance impact here.

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