Published in PC Hardware

Data centre computers could face reboot hell

by on18 January 2018

Intel's Spectre and Meltdown patches make a mess of newer chips

Data centre computers with Intel's newer chips might reboot more often than normal because of problems with the patches issued to fix the so-called Spectre and Meltdown security flaws.

In a statement on Intel’s website data centre group, general manager Navin Shenoy said that patches for the security flaws could cause higher than expected reboot rates in Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge, Skylake and Kaby Lake processors.

For those who came in late, Kaby Lake chips are the company’s most recent offering. Intel initially claimed its security patches were causing problems in systems with its older Broadwell and Haswell chips.

Shenoy said that Intel had issued patches for 90 percent of Intel chips released in the past five years but that the company had “more work to do”. He also said the company would send out initial versions of fixes for the buggy patches to customers by next week.

“We have reproduced these issues internally and are making progress toward identifying the root cause”, Shenoy wrote.

On January 3 Intel confirmed that the Spectre and Meltdown flaws affected its chips, potentially letting hackers steal information believed to be very secure.

The Spectre flaw affected nearly every modern computing device, including those with chips from Intel, AMD and ARM.

Intel quantified how much of a performance hit the patches cause for data centre customers. For common tasks such as running website servers, the patches caused a two percent slowdown, Intel said. Another test that simulated online transactions at a stock brokerage showed a four  percent slowdown, the company said.

For some types of work involving servers that store large amounts of data and try to retrieve it quickly, the company said the slowdown could be as severe as 18 percent to 25 percent. However, it wasn’t immediately clear how common those situations were.



Last modified on 18 January 2018
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