Recent statements from Intel and Microsoft confirm that some patches may cause a reduction in system performance, as patching the vulnerabilities means fiddling with processes that are created to speed up CPU performance.
On a positive note, Intel has identified the root cause of this problem for Broadwell and Haswell platforms and "made good progress in developing a solution to address it", Shenoy wrote. Intel cautioned users about installing the patch in a blog post last week, but as of today, the company appears to have given up on this round of patches altogether. Assuming testing goes well, we can likely expect Intel to release the fix more broadly. However, even though Intel has now figured out why those reboot problems occurred with those processors, it seems that relief for end users will depend on the speed of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) testing efforts.
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Patched servers have seen sharp spikes in CPU usage since applying the update. In December, a critical flaw was discovered in all modern processors that let attackers use low-privileged apps to read the memory of a computer's kernel, the central part of an operating system, giving them the ability to steal sensitive data like passwords, files, and security keys. We know the performance impact is highly variable, and that the worse of the losses have occurred in synthetic tests, rather than real-world benchmarks.
Variant 2 was considered the most problematic attack to mitigate.
It may end up being a touch ironic. If these performance updates wind up making Nehalem, Sandy Bridge, and Ivy Bridge less desirable as platforms, enthusiasts will have that much more reason to move to something new - but considerably less reason to feel happy about it. However, until then, Intel is changing their tune in terms of updating.