Intel released a statement earlier today denying media reports that upcoming patches for a yet-to-be-disclosed security bug cause huge performance dips for devices using Intel CPUs.
The vulnerability —detailed in a previous Bleeping Computer article here— is said to be a security issue that impacts Intel processors mainly.
Details about this vulnerability are currently kept under wraps due to concerns of potential attacks that might try to exploit the bug.
In its statement, Intel acknowledged the security issue for the first time but said that other vendors are also affected, and this is not an Intel-only issue.
Intel is right. The patches for the said security issue apply to CPUs from all vendors, not just Intel, and address general design issues in kernel memory management.
The confusion that only Intel is affected comes after an AMD engineer said that AMD processors are not affected by the vulnerability, even recommending that users disable the new security feature introduced in Linux kernels to address the flaw, fearing performance dips in AMD CPUs.
While Intel acknowledged the security issue, the company's execs have a bone to pick with all the news stories that put a focus on "performance dips" in Intel CPUs.
There have been many articles published in the media claiming that Intel CPUs suffer between a 5% to 50% drop in processing speed due to the patches.
Even before the Intel statement, some experts —including Linus Torvalds— have tried to set the record straight by saying that performance dip varies based on the type of operations each process is running, and that normal PC users won't be affected.
If AWS and Azure are patching it over next few days, they will be confident on performance impact being acceptable as they’re running millions of systems.— Kevin Beaumont (@GossiTheDog) January 3, 2018
Many hardware and software experts also pointed out that many of the benchmark tests that evaluated Intel CPU performance were carried out by comparing stable OS versions against patched but in-dev OS versions, which weren't optimized and would most likely receive more fixes.
Despite this, there's been an abundance of negative headlines that piled up on Intel with claims of poor performance. These headlines caused Intel stock price to plummet by 8% earlier today, while AMD rose by 7%, just because the company stated they were not affected. AMD stock price dropped back to yesterday's levels after the Intel press release, while Intel stock is still 4% under yesterday's value.
Whoever wrote the intel PR piece deserves an award in marketing and communications. The number of synonyms used for “write access” to distract from “read access works just fine” is cunning. As is conflating “intel product” with “OS vendors”. And ARM w/ AMD (who makes ARM64 CPUs).— Alex Ionescu (@aionescu) January 3, 2018
There are no actual lies in that statement. It’s all true statements. That’s the beauty.— Alex Ionescu (@aionescu) January 3, 2018
Intel has a market share of than 80 percent on desktops and more than 90 percent on the laptop and server markets. The Intel statement is available here.
UPDATE: Google has published details regarding flaws affecting almost all CPUs released in the last two decades, confirming Intel's statement. The flaws affect everything from smartphones to cloud servers, and from desktops to laptops. CPUs from all chipset vendors are vulnerable.