back to article Intel rips up microcode security fix license that banned benchmarking

Intel has backtracked on the license for its latest microcode update that mitigates security vulnerabilities in its processors – after the previous wording outlawed public benchmarking of the chips. The software, released this month, counters the Foreshadow aka L1TF Spectre-related flaws in its CPUs. However, its terms of use …

  1. artem

    At this point if you are in for buying a new PC/server, your best option is AMD and will remain so until Ice Lake is relased.

    1. ivan5

      And possibly far beyond that.

    2. ibmalone Silver badge

      It depends a bit. A while since I was able to benchmark the loads I run on AMD, but my understanding is clustered multithreading on AMD cpus means if you're doing heavy floating point you can be in a similar situation to Intel hyperthreading, where one FPU shared between two 'cores' (AMD) or 'virtual cores' (Intel HT). The result is for heavy FPU work you'll probably find find you can't take advantage of HT anyway, while for more traditional server loads you could, I'd speculate on AMD bulldozer you might find you effectively have half the nominal cores for numeric work. Of course this doesn't change any hit on speculative execution from the spectre etc. fixes.

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        "FPU shared between two 'cores' (AMD) or 'virtual cores'" Eypc fixed that

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          "FPU shared between two 'cores' (AMD) or 'virtual cores'" Eypc fixed that

          Interesting to know, I hadn't looked at post-Bulldozer. It seems Zen (EPYC's architecture) is more Intel like with SMT, that'd make it more directly comparable in terms of quoted #cores:#threads (and I'll therefore place my bets that I will have to ignore 'threads' numbers for them too).

          1. kain preacher Silver badge

            Yeah AMD had no choice as software was just no written they way they had hoped for bulldozer. Even windows did not support them like AMD wanted . So when AMD bulldozer said it had 8 cores windows treated it like a quad core with HT

    3. WibbleMe

      Hey Im in the market for a really cheap PC, this is great news for i7 buyers

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Open source works

    Debian kicked up a fuss, and Intel fixed the license. That's good news for a change.

    > "You can't expect every lawyer to understand CPUs,"

    No, but I'd sure as hell expect one working for Intel to understand CPUs, no different than I'd expect a lawyer working for Oracle to understand databases. It's a pretty basic requirement to understand your particular business.

    Edit: they don't have to be an expert, but "duur, whut's a see pee yew?" isn't acceptable at the hourly rate these guys probably pull.

    1. quxinot

      Re: Open source works

      Thank you, Debian.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Open source works

        It looks like Debian's reasoning in this case was correct (they didn't want to be held responsible for '3rd party' benchmarks, which you KNOW are going to happen!). Unfortunately the REAL reason didn't come out in the earlier announcement...

        In any case, it looks like Intel tried to pull a fast one. NOT good.

        (Debian actually reads the fine print)

      2. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Open source works

        "Thank you, Debian."

        Thank you indeed.

        There are really two stories here: that Intel tried to use the licence to gag people from saying what the effects of the update would be, but possibly more than even this, is that all of the other guys were happy to use the patch with that licence as it was.

        1. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: Open source works

          "but possibly more than even this, is that all of the other guys were happy to use the patch with that licence as it was."

          Or more likely, they were happy to use the patch and just didn't give a shit about the license. As the article notes, Red Hat had happily ignored the prohibition and already published benchmarks before Debian started complaining. I imagine most others were the same - either they ignored it or simply didn't notice it in the first place. That's the thing that keeps coming up with software licenses and EULAs - most of them are unenforceable even when they're not actively illegal, and it's not just your average home user that doesn't bother paying any attention to them.

          1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            Re: Open source works

            Or more likely, they were happy to use the patch and just didn't give a shit about the license. As the article notes, Red Hat had happily ignored the prohibition and already published benchmarks before Debian started complaining.

            Could be that those vendors (at least one or two) knew how indefensible the clause was, and may have been inviting Intel to just *try* to uphold it.

            1. Giovani Tapini

              Re: Open source works

              Maybe, or maybe Red Hat simply considered that general guidance did not count as Benchmarks which are quite specific.

              Either way Intel's approach seems to be leaning towards, if you want to be secure don't use our CPU's which doesn't seem very logical. Any enterprise buying lots of kit will want some sort of comparative measures and Intel would rule themselves out of this, ahem, benchmarking process. Their own salesmen would have gone up in flames about the same time as the poor punters trying to keep up with the patching...

    2. Vometia Munro

      Re: Open source works

      I'm somewhat reminded of overhearing a gaggle of managers wandering aimlessly around an office at DEC bragging about how they didn't need to know anything about the industry because their leet management skills were so awesome. This was in the mid '90s, IOW around the time DEC was really struggling because of... well, people like them.

    3. LeeE Silver badge

      Re: Open source works

      All credit to Debian for actually reading the fine print but this isn't an open-source issue: the problem is that the clause was unenforceable:

      "You will not, and will not allow any third party to … publish or provide any Software benchmark or comparison test results."

      This actually means that anyone who distributes the updated microcode can only do so if they are in a position to enforce this condition upon their users, or indeed anyone else - the "third parties" - who download the update from their repositories. Clearly, neither Debian, nor any of the other distros that waived it through, have the ability or authority to enforce this condition and so can't comply with it.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        @LeeE

        the problem is that the clause was unenforceable

        No. That would be for lawyers (ultimately a court) to determine, and will inevitably vary between jurisdictions.

        This actually means that anyone who distributes the updated microcode can only do so if they are in a position to enforce

        "Enforce" in this instance meaning that you alert your users, by distributing Intel's notice. Putting it in an abandoned cellar behind a "beware of the leopard" sign (or perhaps something like in /etc/legalese/notices/intel/CVE-whatever-2018) should be fine, so long as they have it.

    4. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Open source works

      I'd sure as hell expect one working for Intel to understand CPUs, no different than I'd expect a lawyer working for Oracle to understand databases

      Not necessarily but I would expect them to pass their work to an expert in the field for checking before it's released. That's called "due diligence" and lawyers are supposed to do it.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Open source works

        when lawyers do 'due diligence' it can (and probably will) still end up as a one-sided boilerplate agreement.

        "Let's see, gives our client 100% rights in perpetuity, check. Limits the rights to complain or sue us, check. Requires mediation by our overpriced law firm only, check. Non-disclosure and non-compete agreements binding until 10 years after death, check..."

        (I guess only Debian and people like me read the fine print)

    5. Arctic fox
      Thumb Up

      @Gene Cash Re: ""duur, whut's a see pee yew?" "

      Indeed. When you are paid the salary of an enterprise lawyer you are expected to have background and context for your legal "expertise" in the business you are working for. See icon.

  3. ma1010 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Hmmm

    Did somebody say "Streisand Effect"?

    1. gitano

      Re: Hmmm

      Streisand Effect... but no one links to a benchmark on the patch applied :D

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Did somebody say "Streisand Effect"?

      Not in that lawyer's law school. Maybe it's something that should be on the curriculum.

      1. Uffish

        Re: Not in that lawyer's law school

        Corporate lawyers do what they are asked to do. Blame the Intel Marketing Dept.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      "Did somebody say "Streisand Effect"?"

      Oh, you mean like that fancy school that is freaking out because somebody filmed a raunchy music video in the premises. Uh... clever...

  4. GnuTzu Bronze badge
    Megaphone

    No Benchmarks

    Silencing the tools for consumer reviews--as well as enterprise performance metrics used as diagnostics and in sizing--is not a way to please the market.

    But, this is kind of thing has reared its ugly head in the past, and it should have been killed off long ago. They should know better by now, and it's one of these things about which we'll have to be ever vigilant.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: No Benchmarks

      Yes indeed. There should simply be a law stating that benchmarking is a perfectly normal thing to do and publishing said benchmarks is protected by Free Speech (aka these are the results I got in this situation).

      From that point on, companies can put whatever they want in their licensing terms, a judge will throw out any gag attempt on the spot.

      1. Aqua Marina Silver badge

        Re: No Benchmarks

        Within the UK that has already happened. A court ruled that the right to review outweighed the contractual clause forbidding it. I’m struggling to find it at the moment, but I’ll persist.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cock-up or conspiracy?

    I know conspiracy theories are great, but this looks more like a mistake in releasing the code with the license that was used with customers who were doing pre-release, under NDA, testing, than a real attempt to prevent benchmarks.

    I know Intel can be stupid, but the lesser stupidity (releasing code with the wrong license) seems more likely to me than the larger one ("no benchmarks allowed").

    Maybe you can find the Intel release engineer and sign them up for your "On Call" series!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Cock-up or conspiracy?

      "this looks more like a mistake in releasing the code with the license that was used with customers who were doing pre-release, under NDA, testing"

      You could be right but if the testing was done under NDA why would it be needed?

    2. Mike Lewis

      Re: Cock-up or conspiracy?

      You mean even Intel doesn't read their EULA?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cock-up or conspiracy?

      I'm going for cock-up.

      I doubt the technical people would be concerned about releasing the updates under a more open licence given the targets (i.e. OS vendors) and would have understood the technical issues and potential harm if customers read the licence and objected.

      While the likes of Apple and MS and other larger companies can be confident of reaching a sensible outcome ("if you expect to enforce these, we will remove all updates from our OSes and let you deal with hardware manufacturers to get your CPU patches deployed"), it took one of the lesser vendors to make a stand.

      Between the security cock ups and the move to 10nm, Intel feels like a company that has matured to the point where they can no longer make the "right" move on anything for fear of jeopardising their revenue much like Big Blue 30 odd years ago...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        Re: Cock-up or conspiracy?

        I'm going for cock-up.

        Your spam may be able to help with that.

        I'll get me coat.

    4. Ilgaz

      Re: Cock-up or conspiracy?

      Yes, they are so clever that Spectre happened at first place.

  6. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    You can't expect a lawyer this. You can't expect a lawyer that.

    I thought this kind of customer-hostile bullshit had been found to be unenforcable in the US?

    There should be a law that whenever a company tries to pull some crap like that, a lawyer has to be publicly disheartened on a fake Aztec Pyramid in Vegas as Mel Gibson looks on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You can't expect a lawyer this. You can't expect a lawyer that.

      " ... a lawyer has to be publicly disheartened ..."

      Do you mean ..... told s/he might not be getting all the yearly bonus/share options this year ?????

      :)

      P.S.

      If you were alluding to the Aztec habit of removing hearts etc ....

      I thought Corporate Lawyers did not have a heart !!! :) ;)

      1. A.P. Veening

        I thought Corporate Lawyers did not have a heart !!! :) ;)

        You beat me to it, was also my first thought.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: You can't expect a lawyer this. You can't expect a lawyer that.

      "as Mel Gibson looks on."

      ...while screaming "You will never take our FREEEEEEDOMMMMM to benchmark!!!!"

  7. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    Now we can understand

    IIRC there was an announcement here (poss Arstech) which described the new chipsets which Intel was introducing.

    And mirabile dictu, there are upcoming chips *which have no HT*. Cannot remember if the i9 does or doesn't, but the i7 is the other way round. And this does not depend on the core count.

    So now we know why THAT has happened. No HT -> no slowdown from contention for the FPU, probably minor slowdown relatively but obscured by a clock speed jump, of course.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Now we can understand

      I always though shared FPUs was a daft idea, especially for things like ray-tracing, or sound synthessis, both of which massively use FP calculations.

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: Now we can understand

        Most general processing is not FPU heavy, so it makes perfect sense!

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Now we can understand

        "I always though shared FPUs was a daft idea, especially for things like ray-tracing, or sound synthessis, both of which massively use FP calculations."

        I'm using an Intel box for video transcoding. Even pre-patch, it was a faster with HT turned off in the BIOS. I guess it's the FP contention you and others have mentioned.

        1. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: Now we can understand

          HT does not add additional cores, it simply enables a core that is stalled on one task to get on with another while the stall clears. In that sense the entire core is contended. It isn't a clear win but it is to misunderstand the basic principal to complain in essence that a single core doesn't have two FPUs.

    2. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Now we can understand

      Ten years ago I used to routinely disable HT on servers because on CPU-intensive workloads it almost always resulted in worse performance. Note that in one case the "CPU-intensive workload" was just OpenVPN.

      I'm not sure if this was an inherent CPU design problem or the kernel scheduler getting confused. But HT has always been far from a clear win.

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: Now we can understand

        Quite possibly the latter. With HT the two logical cores are not equal - you have the lead core and the second essentially picks up the slack when the first is stalled so runs for only a small miniority of the time. If the scheduler is not aware of the distinction a process can get sqeezed by consitently being scheduled on the "reserve" core. Parodoxically this is more likely to causes issues systems that are otherwise underutilised - on a system with a lot of load on it processed get put on and pulled off cores frequently enough that everything evens itself out over not too long at all.

        1. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

          Re: Now we can understand

          That's not the way that the threads worked on the STI Cell microprocessor, and it seems doubtful that Intel would do it either. At the level of the register file, the thread is simply a single bit set to either 0 or 1. Any kind of prioritization between the threads would require some fairly complicated logic in the queues in front of the execution units. And, as you observe, quite a bit of work from the complier as well.

  8. Lusty Silver badge

    Unfair contract terms

    Write what you like in the terms US lawyers, some of us live in free countries where your contract isn't worth wiping an arse with anyway. The only thing that bothers me with EULA and similar is that I lose 0.2 seconds clicking "I agree" while laughing and having not read your unenforceable bullshit.

    1. BugabooSue

      Re: Unfair contract terms

      I so wish I could upvote this more!

      Just like the annoying ‘Anti-Piracy’ FBI warnings you still see on some videos (like on Netflix). Makes me smile wryly at the total overreach of it all.

      Even in the heavily-surveilled UK we have more “Freedom” than the Trumpian Distopia.

      (Currently!)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > which is where is used to be

    IT

    1. Killfalcon Bronze badge
      IT Angle

      AC, you passed up a perfect opportunity to use this icon ----->

  10. Cincinnataroo

    I imagine that the benchmarking of these CPU's will get a boost. More benchmarks issued. Read by more people. How long will it take?

  11. wownwow

    How many more INTENDED cheats are still inside?

    Even worse, by peeling the onions people don't know how many more INTENDED cheats of not following the specs are still inside!

    How can Intel and system companies be allowed to keep selling the known faulty products with the known flaws, amazing?

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: How many more INTENDED cheats are still inside?

      I don't care who makes it, every chip, of any serious complexity, comes with errata. The tools we have today are pretty damned awesome, unfortunately neither they nor the engineers have achieved perfection. Yet.

  12. rmullen0

    When will it be safe to by a new system?

    My question is when will it be safe to by a new system and not have it have a huge performance hit due to these vulnerabilities? Do the latest CPUs have the vulnerabilities? I want to get a new computer, but, I want to wait until this has been resolved. I have a feeling that may not happen anytime soon.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: When will it be safe to by a new system?

      There is a (currently very good) alternative to Intel...

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: When will it be safe to by a new system?

      There's already several alternatives and in the case of AMD, actually quite a good choice especially on the price/performance ratio. Then the price and capabilities of the alternatives ramp up significantly on price but when you toss in native CPU capabilities rather than adding Tesla, Fermi, Volta or other GPGPU boards into the mix, aren't that far off. Too bad my budget these days is extremely limited. There's some really wicked things I'd be trying now, like nothing seen yet. To dream, ....

      1. doublelayer

        Re: When will it be safe to by a new system?

        Functionally, there is only one viable alternative, that being AMD. There are a lot of other processor types available, but none that are convenient for consumer computers. ARM processors aren't sold in prebuilt machines, and even if there are ARM motherboards out there, you're probably heading for a compatibility nightmare. While there are some machines running ARM out there that are inexpensive for standard consumer use, would you really want to have a raspberry pi as your main computer for standard tasks? The latest one would be fine enough for browsing, coding, or word processing, but it has a lot of downsides if it is being set up as a desktop.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: When will it be safe to by a new system?

          "would you really want to have a raspberry pi as your main computer for standard tasks?"

          It pretty much is. And running RISC OS.

          Anything I need to do that the Pi/RISC OS combination can't do, I can do on my phone these days (Firefox, email, streaming video...). I don't turn the PC on very much any more, and even with leaving the Pi on all the time, I've noticed a pleasing drop in my electricity bill.

          1. doublelayer

            Re: When will it be safe to by a new system?

            I'm glad that works for you. However, there are many tasks that people ask of their computers that a raspberry pi would not do to their satisfaction. Among these are modern games, high-speed browsing (think downloading a multi-gigabyte zip file and extracting it, which on the pi with its USB2 bus and SD card is going to be a lot slower), editing high-bandwidth data (images, audio, or video), even browsing pages with a lot of data to pull down and render and/or having a bunch of tabs open (I wouldn't want to deal with my family's complaints if they tried to do their standard browsing with only a pi core doing that for them). There are a lot of good use cases for one, even when running a full desktop, but there is a reason that a great many raspberry pi users are using them headlessly or as media devices rather than transitioning to having one as their main machine. However, my point was more about viable options for processors in consumer computers. In the sense of performance that is expected of a computer sold these days, intel and AMD are the only providers who 1. have such a processor available and 2. have that processor in a consumer-available machine. ARM has many such processors, but you can't get a computer with one in; the raspberry pi uses a much slower processor. Therefore, the only available alternative should you be concerned about the vulnerabilities or unwilling to hand over more money to intel but still want a standard desktop or laptop is AMd, at least for now.

    3. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

      Re: When will it be safe to by a new system?

      Based on my time at AMD & IBM for a decade just over ten years ago, I'm estimating 3 years from the initial report. That is, two years from now. There are rumblings that AMD will have something in a year. That feels aggressive. And a long ways out to trust.

      The performance/watt of the new chips will be much, much lower than what we have been used to.

  13. regadpellagru

    "OpenBSD supremo Theo de Raadt today reiterated his plea to people to disable Intel's hyper-threading for security reasons. "DISABLE HYPERTHREADING ON ALL YOUR INTEL MACHINES IN THE BIOS," he carefully suggested in a mailing post post to OpenBSD developers and users."

    I'm glad my latest build is based on an i5-4690K vs. an I7-4790K !

    The only difference between both (apart from price) is ... HT :)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intel shooting itself in the foot

    Forbidding benchmarking was stupid from the start.

    First, it's not enforceable, because other than Intel there's no one care to enforcing their license.

    Second, everyone in the tech community already know what these patches are for. It's for security with the drawback of lower performance. In another word, we already know there will be a performance hit.

    Third, allowing benchmarking gives the customers the choice to decide whether or not they patch their system, in a security vs performance comparison. Banning it means they won't know why but the performance drop, causing more customers to move away from Intel product.

    Intel, such license, many stupid, much backtracking, wow.

  15. razorfishsl

    sorry.... disable "hyper-threadding".. why would i disable something i paid good money for....

    1. Mike Pellatt

      why would i disable something i paid good money for

      Just like... errr.... ActiveX.... Flash.... Java..... etc., etc.

      Because it's a security hole big enough to drive a bus through, like all the others.

    2. Orv Silver badge

      If you benchmark your workload you may find out HT isn't buying you the performance boost you think it is.

  16. mark l 2 Silver badge

    So lets say as an end user I have a regular task that I run everyday that usually takes 10 minutes to complete and then i applied the patch and then it takes 11 minutes. Intel were trying to tell me before they pulled this EULA that I couldn't have published this information. Ah haha good look with that one Intel.

  17. fedoraman

    Red Hat reading

    So, did Redhat read the license and not care, or just not read the license?

  18. Paul Smith
    WTF?

    Silly season...

    Does nobody else think this whole security risk business is getting a little out of hand? If you want a genuinely secure box, then you don't need to worry about whether or not it has any of the go-faster features that convinced us to buy it in the first place, you simply need to ensure that it is not connected to anything. For ultimate security, don't turn it on. If you must turn it on, then you must assume it is not ultimately secure and treat it with the appropriate caution. What is so difficult about that?

    1. Mike Pellatt

      Re: Silly season...

      Nope, I don't.

      No-one, anywhere, here is talking about "zero-risk". Of course there's no such thing in The Real World.

      But, if 30+ years of vulns have taught us anything, it's that far too much stuff that looks low-risk on first, second, or even the hundredth examination, turns out to be easier to exploit that was realised in the earlier stages.

      This is especially the case with these side-channel vulns, without too much in the way of thought experimentation, if you care to look at what they're actually all about.

    2. DCFusor Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Silly season...

      Well, while you can make a box secure...if you wanted to actually, you know, USE the thing - as in maybe take funds transfers from customers with it...you'd sorta need it connected to the customers. Kinda the only business model that actually exists that's really a business model anymore - other than defense contracting where they will mail you a fat check.

      And this IS the age-old status of computers, and well, a lot of other things.

      Make it super secure - it's unusable.

      Make it usable, it's not super secure.

      And all the king's horses and men want it different, and try to make it so, and at most make things a little better at the margins, while the lock pickers also improve their skills. It's the same old arms-race forever, with super job security for all the actors!

      1. doublelayer

        Re: Silly season...

        If you're suggesting that we just ignore the problems, that's not likely. Sure, many of these vvulnerabilities aren't important (now) for our personal machines, but a lot of us, myself included, have virtual machines on a system that probably has some more ones. If there exists something that lets another VM user read or write data from mine, that's not a good thing for me. No matter that my VMs aren't doing something extremely secure, I don't really want others trying to break in.

        Note here that I have made some trade-offs in doing this; my VM provider could do a lot of nefarious things if they were so inclined. I have taken that risk and chosen to trust them as a result of my paying them for the service. I am willing to trust that they will not alter my system or extract information, but I don't extend that trust to other users I do not know. The same would be true of each security vulnerability. We don't expect complete security, but we did expect a reasonable level of it. We are justified in being irritated with intel for repeatedly failing to make their processors secure.

  19. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    You CAN expect your lawyer to have a grasp of the business, and this one did. Told it would make things slower he/she did his/her job.

    His client should have said "people can read the EULA and will under these circumstances".

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is a quick fix for Foreshadow just to disable HT in the bios then?

    One can do this on their clusters to see the performance hit without updating microcode, they can then choose performance over security under controller and easily rolled back conditions.

  21. David Pearce

    But Intel, Dell,Acer etc continue to sell I7s at far higher prices than I5s and boast about the performance. As the patches are basically turning an I7 into an I5, this is getting very close to fraud.

  22. Ian Joyner

    New generation of architectures

    When many CPUs were designed in the past, the emphasis was for speed for scientific applications that basically ran on one machine. There was not the need for security.

    We now need architectures and programming techniques that build in security (and correctness). We should not be worried that processor cycles are spent on security checking. Security has become fundamental in the modern world of computing. We should stop ignoring it for the sake of performance an optimisation.

    But to bring around this change needs a change in attitude in almost the entire industry. The concepts of security and software correctness and verification have been around for over 50 years, but largely ignored in favour of dubious concepts like 'programmer freedom'.

  23. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

    Kudos to Debian but...

    Shouldn’t Microsoft have told Intel to fuck off first?

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Kudos to Debian but...

      Are you sure intel put Microsoft under the same restrictions ? I mean if MS deiced to properly support arm or lets say sparc. imagine what would happen to intel.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The need for speed (OT)

    In 1983 I was using an Osborne 01:

    - Wordstar for word processing

    - dBASE-II for some databases

    - BDS C for some system programming

    - SuperCalc for occasional spreadsheet stuff

    - MediaMaster for moving stuff to and from an IBM PC

    *

    In purely functional terms, I'm doing many of the same things today. Of course today file sizes are bigger, there's a GUI hogging the CPU and there's the Internet (although even then there was Prestel!).

    *

    All this thirty year old activity was being supported by a Zilog Z80, 4MHz clock, 64K memory and two 192K floppies.

    *

    Am I dreaming? Even if all the Meltdown/Spectre-type patches are HALVING the speed of a modern processor (which they surely are not), then users are still sitting in front of a computer with many thousand times the power of the Osborne. Why the complaints about "speed impairement"?

  25. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Who would win...

    Who'd win in a fight between Theo de Raadt and Linus Torvalds?

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