ClusterVision White Paper Looks at HPC Performance Impact of Spectre and Meltdown

Isaac Cain
January 16, 2018

Intel, which after originally claiming that Spectre and Meltdown patches would not create any issues with computer slowdown last week said that impact will be "workload dependent", has said that Google's Retpoline technique "may perform better" than its own blended approach.

Rockwell Automation has reported a dozen errors that are appearing in its FactoryTalk based products after installing Microsoft's Meltdown and Spectre patches for Windows systems.

These bugs allow programs to steal data that is being now processed on the computer. Despite these flaws existing for over two decades, researchers independently discovered them at the same time.

Spectre and Meltdown are design flaws in modern processors that could allow hackers to bypass system protections on a wide range of devices, allowing attackers to read sensitive information, such as passwords, from memory. While they pose a threat, it is only when a criminal uses the vulnerability to launch an attack that a breach is possible.

Both provide ways for hackers to potentially access sensitive data that is now being processed on the computer through other running programs, such as passwords being stored in a password manager or browser.

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Apple was just one of the hardware brands which confirmed that its devices were impacted, leaving everything from the iPhone to the MacBook range at risk.

Following the news of the bugs getting out, all major tech players such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, including Intel released security patches to help protect users from potential data theft. But details of the announcement were revealed ahead of schedule, with the researchers pushing the report out ahead of schedule.

Companies like Microsoft and Google have already started sending out the patches to minimise the effects of these bugs.

It also maintained that Meltdown isn't applicable to AMD chips at all.

Microsoft and others in the industry were notified of the issue several months ago under a nondisclosure agreement, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices group, noted earlier this week in an online post. "Internal policy and procedure changes, especially in how Intel communicates to partners and customers must change, and the public acknowledgement of that will serve as a guidepost for internal decisions to support that. We are also working directly with data centre customers to discuss the issue", Krzanich added. "It is fair to say that no vendor can test for every condition, and given that only a few of Intel's customers are experiencing the reboot issue is a testimony to their quality assurance efforts".

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