Daily Management Review

PC And Server Performance Slows Down Due To Security Patches For Chip Flaws, Says Microsoft


Some personal computers and servers are exhibiting signs of slowdown after the use of software patches issued to offset threats against microchip security, said Microsoft Corp on Tuesday. The IT giant specifically pointed out to systems functional on older Intel Corp processors exhibiting a visible fall in performance.
These comments by Microsoft in a blog post clearly indicate that performance degradation was apparent from the fixes that it was issuing to offset flaws in microchips from Intel and rivals that were disclosed last week. And this issue has assumed great significance for large data center operators because fixing the security threats of the chip flaws would mean incurring costs in addition to costs that would be incurred in case of slowing down of computers.
In addition, some computers that had chips from AMD, an Intel rival, froze by the security updates, Microsoft also said. this announcement resulted in the drop of 4 per cent in the share price of AMD.
Intel saw a total erosion of market cap of $15 billion with a fall of 7 per cent in share prices ever since the disclosure of the chip flaw despite the chipmaker reiterating on Tuesday that there saw no visible and significant signs of slowdown of computers. However, the market saw a fall in Intel shares of 2.5 per cent even after that claim. 
On the other hand, based on the assumption that following the chip fault disclosure, AMD would be able to eat into Intel’s market share, investors showed confidence in the company resulting a 20 per cent rise in the share value of the company in the last week. it is believed that Intel chips are the ones that are most exposed to the security threat.
The disclosure that microprocessor chips from Intel, AMD and ARM Holdings had inherent flaws was made on January 3 by security researchers and therefore predicted that virtually every modern computing device would be affected as they contained chips of one of the makers.
"We (and others in the industry) had learned of this vulnerability under nondisclosure agreement several months ago and immediately began developing engineering mitigations and updating our cloud infrastructure," Microsoft executive Terry Myerson wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.
Some of the blade servers, rack servers and routers have bene identified by internet and networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc to possess the vulnerability due to the chip flaw and it said that security patches to safeguard such devices would be available in a time period of about 5 weeks.  
Cisco said that because of the fact that most of the devices that they manufacture are “closed systems that do not allow customers to run custom code on the device,” therefore, they are not vulnerable to the threat.
Meltdown and Spectre are the names of the memory corruption flaws.
Spectre could have impacted around 5 per cent of the over 120 billion chips shipped by its partners since 1991, ARM Holdings has estimated. Chips impacted by Meltdown was much less in number, it said.
“ARM will address Spectre in future processors but there will need to be an ongoing discipline in the design of secure systems which needs to be addressed through both software and hardware,” a company spokesman said in an emailed statement.
The number of chips impacted by chip flaws have not been disclosed by Intel and AMD.