Last week two CPU vulnerabilities, Spectre and Meltdown, were revealed to the public. Both exploit a long-used performance optimization technique, which makes them very significant because they can impact a great many processors across many years and even decades. The news of these vulnerabilities has hit Intel particularly hard though, as the Meltdown vulnerability is Intel-only and AMD claims to be most resilient against Spectre, which can impact all CPUs. Software patches have been rolling out since then to protect against Meltdown and Spectre, and something that caught headlines was the performance impact Meltdown fixes can have, depending on workload. With the patches going out, some places are showing the impacts they are experiencing.
Epic Games decided to update its Fortnite community about server performance and stability, because players may experience issues as patches roll out to the cloud services the game relies on. As part of this update was a graph showing CPU utilization for three of the game's services, after one of them was update with a Meltdown patch. Initially all three curves appear to be on top of each other, but when the patch is applied, one jumps up by over 20% utilization. The difference lessens later, but then grows to even more by the end of the graph, as load appears to increase.
It will be interesting to see what more long-term solutions may be developed and deployed in the future, including what more secure optimization method will come about.
Source: Epic Games
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