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Meltdown and Spectre Slowdown: Microsoft reveals how fixes will affect your PC

Microsoft has confirmed the security patches for the worrying Spectre and Meltdown chip vulnerabilities are slowing performance on PCs and servers.

In a blog post, Microsoft said that the fixes cause “significant slowdowns” on Windows 10 models rocking older (2015 era) Intel CPUs.

PCs with newer silicon (2016 onwards) will likely experience “single digit slowdowns” once the patches have been installed.

For users still running Windows 7/8 on older Intel processors, Microsoft says “we expect most users to notice a decrease in system performance.”

Windows Server users can expect a “more significant performance impact” when users enable the mitigations to isolate untrusted code.

Related: Mythbusting Meltdown and Spectre

Terry Myers, the EVP for Windows and Devices Group, said: “For context, on newer CPUs such as on Skylake and beyond, Intel has refined the instructions used to disable branch speculation to be more specific to indirect branches, reducing the overall performance penalty of the Spectre mitigation.”

Microsoft said it heard about the exploits months before the public found out on January 3. The company said it immediately began developing the the necessary mitigations, while also updating its cloud infrastructure.

In the blogpost, Myerson added: “A new exploit like this requires our entire industry to work together to find the best possible solutions for our customers.

“The security of the systems our customers depend upon and enjoy is a top priority for us.”

All processors vulnerable

The Meltdown bug pertains to silicon produced by Intel, while Spectre refers to vulnerabilities existing within all processors.

If exploited, the bugs make it possible for malicious applications to gain access to a PC’s kernel memory data. That stores things like usernames, passwords and credit card details.

Successful intruders could conceivably grab that data in unencrypted formats.

Industry experts have warned a complete reengineering of processors could be required to nullify the threats.

Is the cure worse than the disease, as pertains to your PC? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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