Science

Microsoft halts AMD Meltdown and Spectre patches after reports of unbootable PCs

Microsoft halts AMD Meltdown and Spectre patches after reports of unbootable PCs

After several days of dodging questions about the performance impact of patches created to fix the Meltdown/Spectre chip design flaws, Microsoft acknowledged Tuesday morning that Windows Server is now slower for certain types of applications thanks to the patches.

As if the Meltdown and Spectre processor security bugs that have been dominating headlines across the internet for the past week weren't scary enough on their own, even the patches for those bugs are causing problems now. Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President, Windows and Devices Group explains that the Windows 10 users with latest-generation silicon processors won't notice any performance difference after installing the Meltdown and Spectre patches.

Upon investigation, Microsoft said some AMD chipsets did not conform to technical documentation the chipmaker had provided, preventing Microsoft from successfully patching affected machines. Please run the Windows update service immediately and apply all patches and fixes that are available. This may require an update to your Lenovo Drivers. However, for Windows 10 PCs with Intel Haswell CPUs or older as well Windows 8 and 7 systems using these same old processors, the performance impact will be much more significant.

"Older versions of Windows have a larger performance impact because Windows 7 and Windows 8 have more user-kernel transitions because of legacy design decisions, such as all font rendering taking place in the kernel", the Microsoft exec added. The patch for Windows Server "shows a more significant performance impact", Myerson explained.




Windows 10 PCs with Skylake, Kaby Lake or anything newer may see "single-digit slowdowns", but for most users the impact will be minimal.

Microsoft said that it would resume fixes "as soon as possible". "That's why we've chosen to provide more context and information today and why we released updates and remediations as quickly as we could on January 3".

Based on our most recent PC benchmarking, we continue to expect that the performance impact should not be significant for average computer users.

"We plan to share more extensive information about performance impact when we can, but we also want to provide some initial information today".