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Microsoft's Spectre and Meltdown update is breaking AMD PCs

10 January 2018

Microsoft will be preventing AMD PCs from receiving the update for now.

The issue was particularly tricky for those running Windows 10 Home, due to the OS not providing a simple way for users to defer updates.

The PC industry is still trying to come to grips with the fallout from the revelation of the Meltdown and Spectre chip vulnerabilities.

With Windows 8 and Windows 7 on older silicon (2015-era PCs with Haswell or older CPU), we expect most users to notice a decrease in system performance. The patch for Windows Server "shows a more significant performance impact", Myerson explained.

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Another important clarification by Microsoft is that the firmware update ("silicon microcode") distributions are decided by the PC or server original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Windows Server on any [process], especially in any [input/output]-intensive application, shows a more significant performance impact when you enable the mitigations to isolate untrusted code within a Windows Server instance. Myerson noted that Microsoft is now performing its own benchmark studies and plans to publish the results when done.

Microsoft said that it is still testing the speed impacts of updating systems, and it doesn't have concrete numbers yet. Skylake CPUs and newer have more refined branch prediction, so the Spectre patch doesn't influence them to the same degree.

Intel, AMD and the ARM processor design house will be sweating it out trying to devise a solution, and I wouldn't be surprised if computer buyers stand back until the chip makers have solved the problem. According to the rep, the issue stems from AMD's documentation for the processors - which Microsoft used to ensure support for the patch - not lining with the physical reality of the affected chipsets.

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Based on the company's tests with Sysmark 2014 SE, 8th-generation Core platforms with an SSD inside will see a performance impact of 6 percent or less, Intel said, with specific test results showing a range from between 2 and 14 percent.

It seems as though a lot of antivirus packages have been causing a lot of headaches for Microsoft Windows users and Microsoft support lately, in that with the Spectre and Meltdown being pushed out, some of those antivirus packages put the OS into a BSOD reboot state.

Intel said its processors would be affected based on the type of operations the CPU would carry out, saying that syscall-heavy processes would suffer the most.

Both Intel and Microsoft said that they would continue to provide updates.

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Microsoft's Spectre and Meltdown update is breaking AMD PCs