Intel has recommitted to supporting customers as it addresses the Spectre and Meltdown exploits that came to light this month.
In addition, partners including Dell, HPE, HPI, Lenovo and Microsoft have joined Intel’s Security-First Pledge.
In his blog, Navin Shenoy, executive vice-president and GM of the Data Centre Group at Intel, says the company has now issued firmware updates for 90% of Intel CPUs introduced in the past five years.
However, while the firmware updates are effective at mitigating exposure to the security issues, customers have reported more frequent reboots on firmware updated systems.
“As part of this, we have determined that similar behaviour occurs on other products in some configurations, including Ivy Bridge-, Sandy Bridge-, Skylake-, and Kaby Lake-based platforms,” Shenoy says. “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.”
Intel also shared initial performance results for its server platforms running two-socket Intel Xeon Scalable systems (code-named Skylake).
“As expected, our testing results to date show performance impact that ranges depending on specific workloads and configurations,” Shenoy says. “Generally speaking, the workloads that incorporate a larger number of user/kernel privilege changes and spend a significant amount of time in privileged mode will be more adversely impacted.”
He says that testing so far shows:
* Impacts ranging from 0% to 2% on industry-standard measures of integer and floating point throughput, Linpack, STREAM, server-side Java and energy efficiency benchmarks. These benchmarks represent several common workloads important to enterprise and cloud customers.
* An online transaction processing (OLTP) benchmark simulating modelling a brokerage firm’s customer-broker-stock exchange interaction showed a 4% impact. More analytics testing is in process and the results will be dependent on system configuration, test setup and benchmark used.
* Benchmarks for storage also showed a range of results depending on the benchmark, test setup and system configuration. For FlexibleIO, a benchmark simulating different types of I/O loads, results depend on many factors, including read/write mix, block size, drives and CPU utilisation. When testing stressed the CPU (100% write case), there was an 18% decrease in throughput performance because there was not CPU utilisation headroom. With a 70/30 read/write model, there was a 2% decrease in throughput performance. When CPU utilisation was low (100% read case), as is the case with common storage provisioning, there was an increase in CPU utilisation, but no throughput performance impact. Storage Performance Development Kit (SPDK) tests, which provide a set of tools and libraries for writing high performance, scalable, user-mode storage applications, were measured in multiple test configurations. Using SPDK iSCSI, there was a impact as high as 25% while using only a single core. Using SPDK vHost, there was no impact.
Shenoy has committed to sharing further information as it becomes available, including more performance data on additional older platforms.