The Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities have jolted the computer industry like none other. Although, the exploits have not yet been taken advantage of, it is a bit disturbing that the CPU architectures which we literally base our lives on have been vulnerable all this while. Intel, Microsoft, Apple, and AMD among others are rushing out patches to prevent systems from becoming victimized. The patches, however, do come at a performance cost. While the exact performance loss is being evaluated, users of older generation Intel CPUs are facing an additional headache — the patches tend to cause higher system reboots leading to decreased reliability.
Intel’s Vice President and General Manager of the Data Center Group, Navin Shenoy, has acknowledged that the company has been receiving feedback from customers who have applied the latest security updates regarding reliability issues on ‘Haswell’ (4th generation) and ‘Broadwell’ (5th generation) families of Intel CPUs. The patches are apparently causing computers with the said CPUs to reboot often and users across the client as well as datacenter markets are reportedly affected. This has placed users in a quagmire — choosing to ignore Intel’s firmware updates could make them vulnerable while installing them could cause constant reboots — not an ideal situation for anyone, more so if the chips are powering mission critical applications. Intel has released a performance assessment datasheet that showed the impact of these patches on new CPUs belonging to 6th, 7th, and 8th generations. The company, however, has not included the previous CPU generations in this assessment.
Shenoy insists that users who get update notifications should go ahead and update in the interest of security. He said that Intel is talking to affected customers and will push another firmware update to rectify the issue if need be.