Upgrading CPU performance hasn't been a priority for Intel in many years, but that could be changing. Intel's upcoming Cannonlake chips will deliver a performance improvement of more than 15 percent compared to its Kaby Lake chips, said Venkata Renduchintala, president of the Intel Client and Internet of Things businesses and Systems Architecture Group. Intel didn't provide exact numbers at the company's annual investor day Thursday, but the projection is based on the SysMark benchmark. Detailed performance improvement numbers will emerge over time. A slide from Intel's investor day shows Intel's projected roadmap toward its 8th-gen "Cannonlake" chip.
Intel has reached one Meltdown/Spectre milestone and is moving on to the next one. The company plans to add "partitioning" to processors later this year to protect against two of the Spectre processor vulnerabilities, it said Thursday. Intel said last week that it had begun sending patches for its Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge chips to its PC hardware partners, leaving just a few niche chips to be patched. That process has now been completed, Intel said Thursday, covering all of its processors released in the last five years. Of the three side-channel attacks making up Spectre and Meltdown, the first Spectre vulnerability variant has essentially been patched via software.
Microsoft is including Google's mitigation for the Spectre Variant 2 speculative execution side-channel attack in the next release of Windows 10, currently codenamed 19H1. One of the great worries about the Meltdown and Spectre CPU flaws -- aside from attackers exploiting them -- has been that mitigations for the attacks could have a severe impact on performance, ranging between five and 30 percent. That concern was greatest for Intel's microcode mitigations for Spectre variant 2, CVE- 2017-5715, a'branch target injection' flaw. Intel's mitigations directly change how hardware speculatively executes. These are Indirect Branch Restricted Speculation (IBRS) and Indirect Branch Predictor Barrier (IBPB), both of which could negatively impact CPU performance.