Intel 8th Gen Core CPUs Show 10% Slowdown In JavaScript-Heavy Tasks After Spectre, Meltdown Patches

meltdown spectre
There has been a lot of talk in recent days about what kind of performance impact that security patches for Meltdown and Spectre would have on overall system performance, with some reports suggesting that some systems could face up to a 30 percent hit. When Intel made its first comments on the matter a week ago, it noted, "for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time."

Yesterday, Intel followed up with the following statement:

Based on our most recent PC benchmarking, we continue to expect that the performance impact should not be significant for average computer users. This means the typical home and business PC user should not see significant slowdowns in common tasks such as reading email, writing a document or accessing digital photos.

Intel went on to state that its SYSMark 2014 SE benchmarking with 8th generation Core processors and SSDs resulted in a negative performance impact of 6 percent or less.

Today, Intel is following up with more extensive test results for 6th, 7th, and 8th generation Core processors (Skylake, Kaby Lake, Kaby Lake Refresh/Coffee Lake). The company goes into greater detail on 8th generation Core platforms, stating that it consistently saw less than a 6 percent impact on Windows 10 performance "across a variety of workloads" with SYSMark 2014 SE. However, there was a greater impact with applications that rely heavily on complex JavaScript operations. In these scenarios, the performance penalty jumped to 10 percent.

The good news (at least for a good portion of our readership) is that for graphically-intensive tasks, such as gaming, there is a negligible impact on performance.

8th Gen Intel Core U series front 2

Intel extended its testing to 7th generation Kaby Lake-H mobile platforms, where it saw a 7 percent drop-off in performance with the SYSMark 2014 SE benchmark. Given that Intel says that the performance characteristics post-patch are similar to 8th gen Core architecture, we can also expect to see 10 percent or greater hits to JavaScript-heavy operations.

SYSMark 2014 SE performance fell short by 8 percent with the 6th generation Skylake-S in Windows 10, and measured in at 6 percent with Windows 7 installed. According to Intel, systems that are equipped with a HDD experienced even smaller hits to performance. You can see the full table of Intel’s benchmarks here [PDF].

"For those Intel customers who are worried about performance impacts, you should know that we will work on creative solutions with our industry partners to reduce those performance impacts wherever possible," said Intel in a statement. "To be clear, we do not want to see the performance of our products impacted in any way, and we know our customers feel the same way. However, the security of our products and our customers' data is our number one priority."

8th Gen Intel Core S series Chip

And just so you don't get the idea that Intel is sitting on its hands with regards to future products, the company says that it is making changes to its next-generation processors to "maximize security and performance."

For its part, Microsoft says that there are two scenarios where Windows users will be greatly impacted by mitigations for Spectre (Variant 2). First, according to the software giant, Windows 10 PCs with Haswell or older processors will see "more significant slowdowns" and a segment of customers may "notice a decrease in system performance”. Intel noticeably left out Haswell processors in its benchmark roundup.

The second segment involves customers running Windows Server. "Windows Server on any silicon, especially in any IO-intensive application, shows a more significant performance impact when you enable the mitigations to isolate untrusted code within a Windows Server instance," said Windows Chief Terry Myerson in a blog post yesterday.