/ meltdown

A Brief Note On Meltdown/Spectre

If you've been paying attention to the news for the last few weeks you're probably already aware of the Meltdown/Spectre vulnerabilities that are affecting pretty much every CPU on the planet thanks primarily to a design flaw in Intel's chips (note, apparently some AMD chips are vulnerable to this as well).

I won't go into the technical details of the attack vector or design flaw as there has been countless publications describing such. This is more of a rant as to how horrible the new patches have been for me. At first I was hesitant to update any of my Apple computers with the new patch as I read there was a signifcant performance hit that you'd have to take due to the mitigation technique vendors had to use to addres this vector.

I have two machines now a Macbook pro 15" and a iMac 27" both fully stacked with as much hardware as you can pack into it. I didn't want to take the performance hit but Apple would not let you update anything else in their ecosystem without applying the dreaded patch. So I did and at first I didn't notice much difference. But after a week or two of applying the patch both of my machines display a lot of lag when I'm typing, videos flicker, all of my code benchmarks slower, and I'm experiencing random reboots.

I do have a Linux laptop (Asus Zenbook) which I patched and didn't see the same behavior, so perhaps this is an Apple problem with a shitty patch. But I can definitely tell you I'm not happy sitting on nearly 6k worth of gear that frustrates the hell out of me.

It's gotten to the point that I'm seriously considering yet again abandoning Apple's ecosystem and building an AMD-based Linux deskop for my work/experiments/etc.

Anyhow, other news hit that Intel's patches were buggy so they are supposedly working "around the clock" to get this fixed right. However I've lost a lot of faith in Intel.

For now, I carry on, albeit slower. But this is probably the absolute biggest security flaw the history of computing has ever seen.

How have the new OS patches affected you?

In slow typing....