Intel Security Issue Update: Initial Performance Data Results for Client Systems

Testing Intel Core Processor Platforms and a Variety of Workloads

Navin ShenoyBy Navin Shenoy

To best ensure the security of our customers’ data, Intel is working hard with the industry to develop and distribute software and firmware mitigations for the exploit methods disclosed by Google Project Zero (also known as “Spectre” and “Meltdown”). As of today, we still have not received any information that these exploits have been used to obtain customer data. We know our customers are eager for updates, and via this blog, I will personally communicate with you the information that we have to share today and in the future.

More:  Security Exploits and Intel Products (Press Kit) | Security Research Findings (Intel.com)

We shared some initial assessments of performance impact yesterday.  We now have additional data on some of our client platforms, and we are sharing that with you today. This is part of our ongoing effort to keep you apprised through frequent updates. We plan to share initial data on some of our server platforms in the next few days. Please know we are working around the clock to generate the data that you want to see as fast as possible. As we endeavor to continue our pace, please understand that – as is common in testing of this type – our results may change as we conduct additional testing.

Jan. 10 Performance Data Results

Today we are sharing data on several 6th, 7th and 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor platforms using Windows* 10. We previously said that we expected our performance impact should not be significant for average computer users, and the data we are sharing today support that expectation on these platforms.

The performance impact of the mitigation on 8th generation platforms (Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake) with SSDs is small. Across a variety of workloads, including office productivity and media creation as represented in the SYSMark2014SE benchmark, the expected impact is less than 6 percent. In certain cases, some users may see a more noticeable impact. For instance, users who use web applications that involve complex JavaScript operations may see a somewhat higher impact (up to 10 percent based on our initial measurements). Workloads that are graphics-intensive like gaming or compute-intensive like financial analysis see minimal impact.

Our measurements of the impact on the 7th Gen Kaby Lake-H performance mobile platform are similar to the 8th generation platforms (approximately 7 percent on the SYSMark2014SE benchmark).

For the 6th generation Skylake-S platform, our measurements show the performance impact is slightly higher, but generally in line with the observations on 8th and 7th generation platforms (approximately 8 percent on the SYSMark2014SE benchmark). We have also measured performance on the same platform with Windows 7, a common configuration in the installed base, especially in office environments. The observed impact is small (approximately 6 percent on the SYSMark2014SE benchmark). Observed impact is even lower on systems with HDDs.

As we collect more information across the broad range of usages and Intel platforms, we will make it available. Within the next week, we intend to offer a representative set of data for mobile and desktop platforms that were launched within the past five years. For those Intel customers who are worried about performance impacts, you should know that we will work on creative solutions with our industry partners to reduce those performance impacts wherever possible.

In addition to all the work we’re doing for products in the hands of our customers, we’re hard at work upgrading the technology in our future products to maximize security and performance.

To be clear, we do not want to see the performance of our products impacted in any way, and we know our customers feel the same way. However, the security of our products and our customers’ data is our number one priority. We are passionate about continuing to work with our partners in the industry to provide the best possible experience for our customers.

The benchmarks, platforms and results available are summarized in the table below.

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Blog Benchmark Table

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Navin Shenoy is executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Intel Corporation.