Intel Tumbles After Microsoft Warns Fixes "Will Significantly Slow" Servers

Intel shares are sliding this morning following a statement from Microsoft that warned that fixes for security flaws present in most processors may significantly slow down certain servers and dent the performance some personal computers.

This was Microsoft's first assessment of the global problem that Intel Corp. initially downplayed.

As Bloomberg reports, Microsoft’s statement indicates slowdowns could be more substantial than Intel has indicated. While Intel Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich on Monday said the problem may be more pervasive than first thought, he didn’t discuss the degree of impact -- only that some machines would be more affected than others.

Microsoft cautioned in a blog post that servers, the computers that underpin corporate networks, used for certain tasks may show "more significant impact." Not all servers will be affected, it said. Microsoft, which didn’t provide specific numbers, said it is testing a variety of systems and will update users on what it finds.

Here is the summary of what Microsoft have found so far:

  • With Windows 10 on newer silicon (2016-era PCs with Skylake, Kabylake or newer CPU), benchmarks show single-digit slowdowns, but we don’t expect most users to notice a change because these percentages are reflected in milliseconds.
  • With Windows 10 on older silicon (2015-era PCs with Haswell or older CPU), some benchmarks show more significant slowdowns, and we expect that some users will notice a decrease in system performance.
  • With Windows 8 and Windows 7 on older silicon (2015-era PCs with Haswell or older CPU), we expect most users to notice a decrease in system performance.
  • Windows Server on any silicon, especially in any IO-intensive application, shows a more significant performance impact when you enable the mitigations to isolate untrusted code within a Windows Server instance. This is why you want to be careful to evaluate the risk of untrusted code for each Windows Server instance, and balance the security versus performance tradeoff for your environment.

The reaction is clear in Intel's stock...

Additionally, Reuters reports that Microsoft said on Tuesday it had suspended patches to guard against Meltdown and Spectre security threats for some computers running AMD chipsets after complaints by AMD customers that the software updates froze their machines.

The issues affect older generations of its chips, AMD said in a statement.

“AMD is aware of an issue with some older generational processors following installation of a Microsoft security update that was published over the weekend,” the AMD statement said.


GeezerGeek HillaryOdor Tue, 01/09/2018 - 13:55 Permalink

Lots of people/corporations. Anyone know what Hillary ran? Was it an Exchange server? Regardless...

Meltdown is independent of the operating system to a certain extent. Since it was Microsoft's comments I wouldn't expect anything related to a Linux or Unix server. Or to a desktop system, for that matter. But hey, it's not like Apache never had any problems.

In reply to by HillaryOdor

Infnordz Tarkus Tue, 01/09/2018 - 17:56 Permalink

Buildings and building materials are generally much easier to make (lower skill), test (even if not cheap), tightly regulated (in theory), and building design can be much easier because of mature physics/space modelling, however design faults and/or cheaper/fudged building materials can be disasterous, as can rot/erosion damage or stupid use of fast burning, often poisonous smoke, materials e.g. the cladding fires!

Computers are more difficult because of the complexity and because it is still quite a young technology, so much less mature than old tech originated building.

In reply to by Tarkus

GeezerGeek Moe-Monay Tue, 01/09/2018 - 13:50 Permalink

Intel does not even make most of what will need to be replaced. Intel makes the CPUs, and as a guess will not be making any immune to Meltdown any time soon. That sort of reengineering takes a bit of time.

Would you expect Intel to replace older motherboards? Assuming the replacement, when available, will not be compatible with any but the current socket design (if that, even; the current Gen 8 Core series CPUs use a different socket layout from all previous generations) the motherboards would need replacing. And what about memory? Older systems used DDR3 memory or lesser versions, Would you propose that Intel give everyone new memory? And then there's the operating system. Many are running Windows 7 or 8.1 or even XP, not to mention all the server variations, Linux, BSD, and so on. And applications might need to be replaced...where would it all end?

I don't see any good hardware solution on the horizon. Better just suck it up and run less rapidly. If all you do is visit the internet, do email, stuff like that, a bit of lost speed due to software patches is a reasonable compromise.

When you get right to it, Meltdown supposedly allows access to supposedly forbidden parts of memory. So if you're doing anything online with sensitive information you can open a browser (no other copies should be running) window, do what you need, shut down the browser, and shut down. Then reboot. With a little luck memory will have been reset. Don't hold me to this, but it's what I'd do if I were worried, at least for now. 

In reply to by Moe-Monay

Infnordz GeezerGeek Tue, 01/09/2018 - 18:03 Permalink

To be quite blunt Intel has Fucked Up unforgivably, because they were security aware, but still did unsafe speculative execution, even worse than AMD.  My current Intel based machines will be probably be the last Intel based ones I buy, because this isn't its only security Fuck Ups, there is also the internal management CPU(s) one too!

In reply to by GeezerGeek

GeezerGeek j0nx Tue, 01/09/2018 - 14:01 Permalink

What would you do? AMD apparently is immune to Meltdown, but not the other, which seems to be more application oriented.

Guess you better go dust off that old PC XT with the old 8086 processor. Then relearn DOS. When you find nothing modern works, rediscover the joys of reading real books.

Maybe a Raspberry Pi is safe. Anyone know?

In reply to by j0nx

Tarkus GeezerGeek Tue, 01/09/2018 - 14:19 Permalink

Apparently not.

Raspberry seems to run on ARM. (

From ArsTechnica:

The researchers say they haven't been able to perform the same kind of kernel memory-based speculation on AMD or ARM processors, though they hold out some hope that some way of using this speculation offensively will be developed. While AMD has stated specifically that its chips don't speculate around kernel addresses in this way, ARM has said that some of its designs may be vulnerable, and ARM employees have contributed patches to Linux to protect against Meltdown.

Spectre is a more general attack, based on a wider range of speculative execution features. The paper describes using speculation around, for example, array bounds checks and branches instructions to leak information, with proof-of-concept attacks being successful on AMD, ARM, and Intel systems. Spectre attacks can be used both to leak information from the kernel to user programs, but also from virtualization hypervisors to guest systems.

In reply to by GeezerGeek

RumpleShitzkin Tarkus Tue, 01/09/2018 - 14:43 Permalink

virtualization hypervisors to guest systems....



Well, there went the cloud. Oh well. Even though I’ve worked in cloud computing and VMware for years, you can bet in my heart of hearts I’ve always thought any company using it with non local stores are suckers.

If it ain’t on your drives, it ain’t yours. I don’t care what they tell you. In the end, the landlord wins.

In reply to by Tarkus

Infnordz Tarkus Tue, 01/09/2018 - 18:13 Permalink

I very much doubt that simpler and much slower CPUs like in Arduino and other non-ARM embedded/maker boards use speculative execution pipelines, because the CPU speed is much closer to or slower than the memory speed, so pointless, as it is for slower ARM CPUs.

In reply to by Tarkus

dark fiber Masher1 Tue, 01/09/2018 - 12:55 Permalink

The snooping part is AMT.  It is the CPU within the CPU and it has been repeatedly demonstrated to be an open door to any system.  If you take a  look at the thing, there is no way this was not intentional.  So, NSA at work right there, AMD was probably forced to include something similar, and this latest issue is probably just a distraction from other more serious government mandated backdoors.  One thing is for certain, China and Russia will dump Intel and AMD and develop their own CPUs.

In reply to by Masher1

Masher1 dark fiber Tue, 01/09/2018 - 13:06 Permalink

An intel CPU has a section called the ME or management engine, this computer inside your CPU is not in your best interest... This computer inside your CPU is the primary reason nothing is safe, Now they are having to bend over and crap out a bunch of turds to hide their use of this device hidden in your computer and it's obvious effects on your speed and Usability... In doing a no shit audit of my system and ALL of it's parts, i found out the entire system is so insecure the idea of private ANYTHING was just not allowed in any system with a ME installed.

In reply to by dark fiber

GeezerGeek Masher1 Tue, 01/09/2018 - 14:12 Permalink

Right off the bat she says computers are extensions of our brains. Computers are tools, just like eyeglasses are tools. They help us perform better than we could without them.

She then says computers can be insecure and untrustworthy. I long ago had more than one girlfriend who turned out to be insecure and untrustworthy.

I stopped watching at that point.

In reply to by Masher1

Roger Ramjet Tue, 01/09/2018 - 12:13 Permalink

Well its a good thing that Intel CEO Kzranich was able to sell his shares before this became public.  Wow, this guy is prescient!  A true American CEO.

NoWayJose Tue, 01/09/2018 - 12:14 Permalink

The only hope for Intel is to come out with a new chip and give it to PC makers to let them design and replace motherboards at a deeply reduced ‘upgrade’ price.

Most companies will just buy new servers instead - and move the disk drives - but the server sales will end up helping Intel.

And you can bet Microsoft will force them to buy new licenses!

Jtrillian Tue, 01/09/2018 - 12:16 Permalink

Seems to me this is bullish for Intel.  This is built in obsolescence on steroids. 

Obey and consume.  According to recent data, it's what we're best at.