Following up on yesterday’s confirmation that security exploits can compromise computers with Intel processors, Intel today announced a timetable for updates to render recent computers “immune” to the exploits, now referred to as Spectre and Meltdown. It also provided some guidance on mitigation of the performance hits machines may take following the update.
On the consumer and enterprise side, Intel says that it has “already issued updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years.” By the end of next week, it plans to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of the past five years’ processors.
Additionally, Intel notes that “many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they already updated their products and services.” But no timetable was announced for patching Intel processors greater than five years old, though reports have suggested that up to 15 years of Intel processors may be affected.
Third-party benchmarking of the performance hits on affected machines ranged from 5-30 percent depending on the specific processor, OS, and task. Without offering details, Intel suggests that “the performance impact of [its] updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.” In cases where performance hits are higher, the company expects that future “improvement of the software updates should mitigate that impact.”