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Virgil Caine

Computers May Be About To Run A Lot Slower

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Basically an internal security flaw in the design of Intel Chips can only be fixed by making the processors work harder and potentially run a lot slower (technically there are going to be more 'context switching' )

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42553818

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/02/intel_cpu_design_flaw

Particularly bad news for organisations that have gone big on Cloud Computing and VMs which are very reliant on processing power

No surprise to find the Intel CEO was cashing in his share options at the end of last year.

 

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21 minutes ago, Virgil Caine said:

Basically an internal security flaw in the design of Intel Chips can only be fixed by making the processors work harder and potentially run a lot slower (technically there are going to be more 'context switching' )

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42553818

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/02/intel_cpu_design_flaw

Particularly bad news for organisations that have gone big on Cloud Computing and VMs which are very reliant on processing power

No surprise to find the Intel CEO was cashing in his share options at the end of last year.

 

It's a non-event or a good opportunity to get cheap Intel shares! 

https://www.computerbase.de/2018-01/intel-cpu-pti-sicherheitsluecke/

BMarkPatch.thumb.jpg.cb6b39dc59b84e3eae2040c4c6468688.jpg

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16 minutes ago, XswampyX said:

It's a non-event or a good opportunity to get cheap Intel shares! 

https://www.computerbase.de/2018-01/intel-cpu-pti-sicherheitsluecke/

BMarkPatch.thumb.jpg.cb6b39dc59b84e3eae2040c4c6468688.jpg

I think those benchmarks are sort-of irrelevant, as they're heavy duty CPU processing measures.  I'd have thought you would see an effect in real-world usage (as it'll show up on system things like disk access, say).  I think it should absolutely hammer virtual machine performance.

IMO there'll be some significant effects on Intel (class action, say).

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12 minutes ago, dgul said:

I think those benchmarks are sort-of irrelevant, as they're heavy duty CPU processing measures.  I'd have thought you would see an effect in real-world usage (as it'll show up on system things like disk access, say).  I think it should absolutely hammer virtual machine performance.

IMO there'll be some significant effects on Intel (class action, say).

Intel don't think so.

Quote

Also, we would have likely already seen signs of a pending financial disaster for Intel if there was a serious threat of hardware replacements to a wide swath of the data center. Intel's customers would likely be able to pursue litigation for widespread losses that are directly the fault of Intel. It's also reasonable to assume that the company would be required to replace faulty processors. For instance, Intel disclosed during its Q4 2016 earnings call that it had encountered a higher-than-expected failure rate for some of its processors, so it established a financial reserve to deal with the costs of replacements. We reported on Intel's statements, and later the fund was connected to failures in Intel's Atom C2000 processors. In no recent financial commentary has Intel disclosed the establishment of any new funds, so it appears the company doesn't foresee significant hardware replacements any time soon.

Source :- http://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-bug-performance-loss-windows,36208.html

At worst it will mean even more sales for Intel.

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Posted (edited)

Home users can probably live with the issue but it is potentially a big deal for large scale Enterprise Computing particularly where there is lots of I/O etc which requires system calls to the kernel. The security flaw is a pretty fundamental one and is outlined quite well in the first comment on this gizmodo thread

https://gizmodo.com/report-all-intel-processors-made-in-the-last-decade-mi-1821728240

All the Intel bench marks quoted above are pretty meaningless because the fix being applied to the security flaw is not being implemented as part of the processor microcode but at the level of the operating system that sits above it so it will be Windows, MacOS and Linux that will be slowing down the machine by requiring the system to swap address spaces when it accesses the Kernel. This context switching is a relatively expensive activity at processor level and though each hit is measured in milliseconds the cumulative impact could be quite large. I am generally pretty sceptical about bench mark tests of systems anyway because in my experience they very rarely match real world scenarios.

Everyone is being suitably vague about the security vulnerability but one must assume it is a big deal because all the OS vendors are moving in tandem to fix it quickly. It is possible that state backed malware writers are already exploiting it. Given Intel have turned the enterprise processor market into a virtual monoculture the potential attack target is absolutely massive.

 

Edited by Virgil Caine

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3 minutes ago, Captain Cavey said:

More importantly, will my computer process GTA 6 quickly enough to enable me to efficiently run over prostitutes?

Equally important, will my bitcoin mining operation find one in the next 220 years. It's my retirement plan.

 

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4 minutes ago, Captain Cavey said:

More importantly, will my computer process GTA 6 quickly enough to enable me to efficiently run over prostitutes?

No problem because it probably uses the Graphics Processing Unit not the CPU to do that anyway.

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1 minute ago, Cunning Plan said:

Equally important, will my bitcoin mining operation find one in the next 220 years. It's my retirement plan.

 

Everyones using asics these days. 

Chances of mining a BTC with a cpu is 0.00000000000.

O.T. Its been known for a while that Intel CPUs are old school, amd is now making the best now, but i suspect they will be killed by the monopoly effect.

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2 hours ago, Virgil Caine said:

Basically an internal security flaw in the design of Intel Chips can only be fixed by making the processors work harder and potentially run a lot slower (technically there are going to be more 'context switching' )

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42553818

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/02/intel_cpu_design_flaw

Particularly bad news for organisations that have gone big on Cloud Computing and VMs which are very reliant on processing power

No surprise to find the Intel CEO was cashing in his share options at the end of last year.

 

A class action lawsuit will start sniffing around this issue....I would suspect..

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, wherebee said:

A class action lawsuit will start sniffing around this issue....I would suspect..

Indeed.

The way Intel have gone into full denial mode and then tried to drag their main rival AMD under the bus is pretty unedifying. 

As part of their campaign of obfuscation they have claimed that the weakness does not allow user processes to 'corrupt, modify or delete data' via the kernel which is true. What they fail to mention is that they appear to allow these same processes to have a look at the contents of the kernel before they check whether they have permission to read it. This means potentially things such as passwords and encryption keys are exposed to theft which can later be used to hack systems at the malware writers leisure. One suspects there are state backed agencies out there more than capable of exploiting that sort of vulnerability.

 

Edited by Virgil Caine

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Posted (edited)

Some great mealy mouthed quotes from Intel

'Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.'

Or to translate the more you use the processor the slower it will run but average Windows users won't notice the difference because their chosen operating system is a dog anyway. The problem will be mitigated over time when you buy a new computer which has a chip in it that does not contain the design flaw that we have been using for over a decade 

In case anyone is interested the potential vulnerabilities are discussed here

https://www.tomsguide.com/us/intel-cpu-kernel-pc-mac,news-26320.html

https://spectreattack.com

Intel appears to have conflated the weaknesses identified as 'Meltdown' and 'Spectre' to suggest all chip sets are equally vulnerable though it appears only their processors are vulnerable to the first and most easily exploited of the two issues.

 

Edited by Virgil Caine

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I deliberately don;t have virus checkers and am very carefree with passwords.  If anyone plants child porn on my computer to try to fit me up, I want the shittest security system possible so my defence lawyer can explain a backwards hillbilly could have hacked me :)

 

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, The Masked Tulip said:

I remember Intel having a similar problem back in the 90's. They released a patch. Blah. Sun came up the following morning.

I don't think this is patchable at the Intel microcode level.

As I understand it is a fundamental design flaw that requires a chip redesign.

It is quite interesting how people on the Web managed to work out what was going on

http://pythonsweetness.tumblr.com/post/169166980422/the-mysterious-case-of-the-linux-page-table

The flaw was identified in June 2017 but the likes of Intel, Google and Amazon  have been keeping pretty quiet about its implications because there are probably billions of dollars at stake here in the Corporate Computing market.

I think the difference with the 1990s is that so many systems now run on VMs in the Cloud rather than as standalone hardware. Major league hackers know that the motherlode is an exploit that can crack the Hypervisors that run these operations since that would potentially expose all the virtual machines under their control. 

 

Edited by Virgil Caine

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5 hours ago, The Masked Tulip said:

I remember Intel having a similar problem back in the 90's. They released a patch. Blah. Sun came up the following morning.

Crap floating point unit.

Intel have a real problem with testing their silicon.

This one is a bit ore of a fiddly issue, connected to the MMU + TLB.

I used to do this sort of thing, 15 years ago - trying to as many cycles out of Intel chips.

The underlying design is so shit, well, missing, and theres crap over layered on crap, making the silicon is hard to verify - all the little case/states.

The waste on Intel processors dealing with all the legacy stuff is phenomenal.

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How do I look up whether I'm vulnerable to this? Is there a list of affected CPUs, and does the bug have a name?

I'm running 32bit CPUs from 10 years ago.

 

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10 hours ago, Virgil Caine said:

No problem because it probably uses the Graphics Processing Unit not the CPU to do that anyway.

I've read that direct x games still make lots of system calls, so performance will be impacted, just by how much is unknown. Finally a reason to use OpenGL?

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12 hours ago, Virgil Caine said:

Basically an internal security flaw in the design of Intel Chips can only be fixed by making the processors work harder and potentially run a lot slower (technically there are going to be more 'context switching' )

Are they mining bit coin?

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Posted (edited)

Lucky I've got AMD on my desktop. However the missus has just ordered a laptop with an i5 processor so I'm a bit pissed off about this. Didn't get an AMD as they tend to be a bit crap in laptops (too much heat). I don't know if the Ryzen range will address this but currently AMD laptops are all but unobtainable.

Edited by davidg

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, davidg said:

Lucky I've got AMD on my desktop. However the missus has just ordered a laptop with an i5 processor so I'm a bit pissed off about this. Didn't get an AMD as they tend to be a bit crap in laptops (too much heat). I don't know if the Ryzen range will address this but currently AMD laptops are all but unobtainable.

Same here. I have always been a fan of AMD. On my last upgrade I couldn't be bothered to get a new motherboard for the newest chips, so bought the FX 8350, with the snazzy new stock cooler. 8 cores of goodness running at 9 degrees C, which is nice and fast + very quiet. Best upgrade I have made in a while.

We also have 2 AMD laptops in the house, although they are on their last legs now.

Edited by Reebo
stuff

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