First, this is news and while I don’t buy into the whole fake news thing, I do buy into fantastic headlines without proper information to back it up.
There are some oddities here I’m not comfortable with. The information in this article appears to make a point of it being of greatest impact to cloud virtualization, though the writing is so convoluted, I can’t be positive about this.
I can’t tell whether this is an issue that will actually impact consumer level usage. I also can’t tell whether there would actually be 30% performance hit or whether there would be something more like 1% except in special circumstance. The headline is a little too fantastic and it reminds me of people talking about how much weight they lost... and the include taking off their shoes and wet jacket.
Everyone is jumping to conclusions that AMD or Intel is better at whatever. Bugs happen.
Someone claims that the Linux and Windows kernels are being rewritten to execute all syscalls in user space. This is generally crap. This sounds like one of Linus’s rants about to go haywire. Something about screwing things up for the sake of security as opposed to making a real fix.
Keep in mind, syscalls have to go through the kernel. If a malformed syscall is responsible for the memory corruption, making a syscall in another user thread will probably not help anything as the damage will be done when crossing threads via the syscall interface.
Very little software is so heavily dependent on syscalls. Yes, there is big I/O things, but we’re not discussing the cost of running syscalls, we’re talking about the call cost itself. Most developers don’t spend time in dtrace or similar profiling syscalls since we don’t pound the syscall interface that heavily to begin with.
Until we have details, we’re counting chickens before they’ve hatched. And honestly, I’d guess that outside of multi-tenant environments, this is a non-issue otherwise Apple would be rushing to rewrite as well.
In multitannant environments, there are 3 generations Intel needs to be concerned with.
Xeon E5 - v1 and v2
Xeon E5 - v3 and v4
If necessary, Intel could produce 3 models of high end parts with fixes enmass and insurance will cover the cost.
Companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, may have a million systems each running this stuff could experience issues, but in reality, in PaaS, automated code review can catch exploits before they become a problem. In FaaS, this is not an issue. In SaaS this is not an issue. Only IaaS is a problem and while Amazon, Google and Microsoft have big numbers of IaaS systems, they can drop performance without the customer noticing, scale-out, then upgrade servers and consolidate. Swapping CPUs doesn’t require rocket scientists and in the case of OpenCompute or Google cookie sheet servers shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes per server. And to be fair, probably 25% of the servers are generally due for upgrades each year anyway.
I think Intel is handling this well so far. They have insurance plans in place to handle these issues and although general operating practice is to wait for a class action suit and settle it in a fashion that pays a lawyer $100 million and gives $5 coupons to anyone who fills out a 30 page form, Amazon, Google and Microsoft have deals in place with Intel which say “Treat us nice or we’ll build our next batch of servers on AMD or Qualcomm”.
I’d say I’m more likely to be effected by the lunar eclipse in New Zealand than this... and I’m in Norway.
Let’s wait for details before making a big deal. For people who remember the Intel floating point bug, it was a huge deal!!! So huge that after some software patches came out, there must have been at least 50 people world wide who actually suffered from it.