With Meltdown and Spectre turning into something of a PR disaster for Intel, the chip-maker has promised that patches will be made available for the vast majority of modern processors by the end of next week.
The company says that it has already released "updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years" in the form of firmware updates and software patches. By the end of next week, Intel hopes to have released updates for 90 percent of processors from the last five years. Refuting claims that have been made by many parties, Intel denies that the patches come with a significant performance impact, and says that any negative side effects will be mitigated against over time.
Intel is focusing attention on chips that have been produced in the last five years -- which is understandable to a degree. The company says that it "has developed and is rapidly issuing updates for all types of Intel-based computer systems," but it is not clear when -- or whether -- older devices will be treated to patches.
In a statement posted on its website, Intel says:
Intel has already issued updates for the majority of processor products introduced within the past five years. By the end of next week, Intel expects to have issued updates for more than 90 percent of processor products introduced within the past five years. In addition, many operating system vendors, public cloud service providers, device manufacturers and others have indicated that they have already updated their products and services.
In reference to claims about a negative impact on performance, Intel has the following to say:
Intel continues to believe that the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time. While on some discrete workloads the performance impact from the software updates may initially be higher, additional post-deployment identification, testing and improvement of the software updates should mitigate that impact.
Benchmarks do seem to show that there is a slowdown following the installation of a patch, but Intel is correct in saying that this is dependent on the type of task that's being performed. It may well be true that the average users will not see much of a difference on their home computer, but the impact of Meltdown and Spectre is much more widespread than that. For high workload cloud environments, for instance, the performance hit could be very noticeable, and affect a large number of people.