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Linus Torvalds Comments On STIBP & He's Not Happy - STIBP Default Will End Up Changing

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Linux

It turns out that Linus Torvalds himself was even taken by surprise with the performance hit we've outlined on Linux 4.20 as a result of STIBP "Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors" introduction as well as back-porting already to stable series for cross-hyperthread Spectre V2 protection. He doesn't want this enabled in full by default.

All of the benchmarking I've been doing the past few days to shine the light on the Linux kernel's STIBP addition appears to be paying off. My tests have found Linux 4.20 to incur significant performance penalties in many workloads -- in fact, more so than some of the earlier Spectre and Meltdown mitigations -- and STIBP is already being back-ported to stable series like Linux 4.19.2. PHP, Pythom, Java, and many other workloads are measurably affected and even the gaming performance to some extent.

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Latest Spectre patches bring big performance hits to Linux 4.20

Huge performance toll noted

  • Linux Spectre V2 Patch Incurs up to 50 Percent Performance Penalty

    How far are you willing to go to make your PC more secure? Most security conscious people understand that mitigating their risk involves some kind of trade-off, whether it's sacrificing convenience, spending more money, or compromising their system's performance. Yet many Linux users weren't prepared for a patch for the Spectre v2 vulnerability to incur up to a 50% performance penalty on Intel processors.

    The patch in question was released with the Linux 4.20 kernel. It bears the Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors (STIBP) mitigation for CPUs with simultaneous multithreading (SMT). This is supposed to prevent attacks based on the Spectre v2 vulnerability, but as a result, it also hurts performance on Intel processors with Hyper-Threading enabled, provided those CPUs are running the latest microcode updates as well.

  • Linus Torvalds: After big Linux performance hit, Spectre v2 patch needs curbs

    As noted by Linux news site Phoronix, the sudden slowdowns have been caused by a newly implemented mitigation called Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors (STIBP), which is on by default in the Linux 4.20 kernel for Intel systems with up-to-date microcode.

    STIBP is one of three possible mitigations Intel added to its firmware updates in response to the Spectre v2 attacks. Others included Indirect Branch Restricted Speculation (IBRS), and Indirect Branch Predictor Barrier (IBPB), which could be enabled by operating-system makers.

    STIBP specifically addresses attacks against Intel CPUs that have enabled Hyper Threading, its version of Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT)

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