Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Cloud Security

Intel Tests Performance Impact of CPU Patches on Data Centers

Intel Patches for Meltdown and Spectre Cause More Frequent Reboots

Intel Patches for Meltdown and Spectre Cause More Frequent Reboots

Intel on Wednesday shared information on the performance impact of the Meltdown and Spectre patches on data centers, and the company told customers that systems with several types of processors may experience more frequent reboots after firmware updates are installed.

Performance impact on data centers

Roughly one week ago, Intel informed customers that the mitigations for the recently disclosed CPU flaws should have a negligible performance impact for operations typically conducted on home and business PCs. The company reported seeing performance penalties ranging from 2-14% on these types of systems.

Intel has also conducted some performance tests on data centers and the initial results show that, as expected, impact depends on the type of workload and the configuration of the system.

Tests conducted on Intel Xeon Scalable (Skylake) systems showed that impact on integer and floating point throughput, Linpack, STREAM, server-side Java, and energy efficiency, which are typical for enterprise and cloud customers, was 0-2%.

In the case of online transaction processing (OLTP), Intel saw a performance impact of roughly 4%. The company is in the process of conducting more tests and believes the results will depend on system configuration and other factors.

In the case of FlexibleIO, which simulates various I/O workloads, throughput performance decreased by 18% when the CPU was stressed, but there was no impact when CPU usage was low.

Intel saw the most significant performance penalties during Storage Performance Development Kit (SPDK) tests, specifically using iSCSI, reaching 25% when only a single core was used. However, there was no impact on performance when SPDK vHost was used.

Performance penalties of Intel patches on data centers

Microsoft, AWS, Red Hat and others have also shared information on the impact of the Spectre and Meltdown mitigations on performance.

Firmware updates cause reboots

Intel has released firmware updates for 90% of the CPUs released in the last five years. While the company claims that the updates are effective at mitigating the Spectre and Meltdown attacks, users have reported seeing more frequent reboots after applying patches.

Intel initially said only systems running Broadwell and Haswell CPUs experienced more frequent reboots, but similar behavior has also been reported on Ivy Bridge-, Sandy Bridge-, Skylake-, and Kaby Lake-based platforms.

“We have reproduced these issues internally and are making progress toward identifying the root cause. In parallel, we will be providing beta microcode to vendors for validation by next week,” said Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group.

Many affected vendors, including system manufacturers, have already released patches and workarounds for the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, but installing them has been known to cause serious problems.

Microsoft’s initial patches prevented systems with some AMD processors from booting, and Canonical’s Meltdown fix broke some devices running Ubuntu. Industrial control systems (ICS) vendors have warned customers that the patches for the CPU vulnerabilities should be thoroughly tested before being installed in order to prevent any disruptions.

Related: Lawsuits Filed Against Intel Over CPU Vulnerabilities

Related: Fake Meltdown/Spectre Patch Installs Malware

Related: Oracle Fixes Spectre, Meltdown Flaws With Critical Patch Update

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join this webinar to learn best practices that organizations can use to improve both their resilience to new threats and their response times to incidents.


Join this live webinar as we explore the potential security threats that can arise when third parties are granted access to a sensitive data or systems.


Expert Insights

Related Content

Application Security

Cycode, a startup that provides solutions for protecting software source code, emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday with $4.6 million in seed funding.

Management & Strategy

SecurityWeek examines how a layoff-induced influx of experienced professionals into the job seeker market is affecting or might affect, the skills gap and recruitment...


Less than a week after announcing that it would suspended service indefinitely due to a conflict with an (at the time) unnamed security researcher...

Data Breaches

LastPass DevOp engineer's home computer hacked and implanted with keylogging malware as part of a sustained cyberattack that exfiltrated corporate data from the cloud...

Application Security

GitHub this week announced the revocation of three certificates used for the GitHub Desktop and Atom applications.

Cloud Security

Microsoft and Proofpoint are warning organizations that use cloud services about a recent consent phishing attack that abused Microsoft’s ‘verified publisher’ status.

Data Breaches

GoTo said an unidentified threat actor stole encrypted backups and an encryption key for a portion of that data during a 2022 breach.


A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...