Massive design flaw in Intel CPUs found, reduces performance

01-03 13:32

Right before CES 2018 kicks off, one of the biggest stories of the year for Intel will be the fact that a massive design flaw and security vulnerability has been found in Intel CPUs. Affected processors require an update to the OS, as this affects both Windows and Linux.

The affected Intel processors will not just face a security vulnerability, but a huge performance drop of between 5-30% once the OS has been fixed. Intel processors have a bug that can't be fixed with a microcode update, meaning Microsoft has to issue a fix at a Windows level, or you'll be forced into the arms of an AMD processor, which aren't affected.

How bad is the security issue? Well, an affected processor could have the contents of its kernel memory accessed, which is where super-secure things like passwords, log-ins, and more can be found.

The Register, who first reported on the story, explains: " At worst, the hole could be abused by programs and logged-in users to read the contents of the kernel's memory. Suffice to say, this is not great. The kernel's memory space is hidden from user processes and programs because it may contain all sorts of secrets, such as passwords, login keys, files cached from disk, and so on. Imagine a piece of JavaScript running in a browser, or malicious software running on a shared public cloud server, able to sniff sensitive kernel-protected data ".

With a huge 5-30% decrease in performance, AMD is going to have a massive win here - buy Ryzen CPUs and receive a CPU that will perform better than an equally priced Intel CPU, post-OS patch. This will send shockwaves through the industry, and completely change benchmarking for things like me - as once I patch my OS, a 5-30% performance drop affects absolutely everything I do.

For Intel, well... I'm sure I'll wait for a comment from them once this article goes live, as I will reach out and ask for comment and I'm sure that email will get lost. Maybe they can blame the security bug in my Core i7-8700K, heh.

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