AMD Hits a Snag Over Patch for Chip Flaw

AMD Hits a Snag Over Patch for Chip Flaw

AMD Hits a Snag Over Patch for Chip Flaw

Microsoft has stopped Windows updates meant to patch the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities on AMD powered computers.

Intel's shares sank in the two days after the chip vulnerabilities were disclosed last week, while AMD shares are up more than 15% since January 2, the day before news of the security flaws was widely disclosed.

With the post, Microsoft seems to confirm developers' fears that updates required to protect against recent CPU vulnerabilities could significantly slow servers and older Windows machines.

Customers that found their computers unable to boot following the update must now visit Microsoft's support site to restore their machine, while both Microsoft and AMD work to resume the availability of patch-equipped software updates.

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The pause in the updates was spotted by The Verge. "I understand that making the machine unbootable is the best protection from remote exploitation, but I would rather have the OS working", AMD PC user Jaroslav Škarvada said in a forum posting.

Microsoft explained that the reason why Windows 7 and 8 are more impacted than Windows 10 is because the two use older kernels which perform more transitions between the kernel-mode and the user-mode.

Apple Inc also released an updated version of its operating system software on Monday to fix the security flaw. Ironically, AMD CPUs were immune to Meltdown but susceptible to Spectre, but the silver lining in that cloud has been dirtied by the patch problem.

Initial estimations said the Linux Meltdown and Spectre patches would produce between 5% and 50% slowdowns, but further tests and benchmarks proved many claims exaggerated.

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The question many will be asking is whether the performance hit is a price with paying for the security mitigation. However, he emphasized that businesses running transactional processing systems or time-sensitive applications need to conduct testing before they apply any OS security updates.

Windows 10 PCs with Haswell or older processors will see "more significant slowdowns" and Microsoft notes that a segment of customers may "notice a decrease in system performance". This is an architectural issue and it can't simply be fixed with a patch.

Microsoft, Intel and PC manufacturers are still dealing with the Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities these days, and contrary to Intel's reassuring statements from last week, the fixes will have a performance impact, especially on older PCs. However, patch issued by Microsoft appears to have done more harm than good at this stage.

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