So what exactly is going on here? Memory is leaking through the Intel chip’s kernal which leads to sensitive data exposure. Such details could be easily exposed by malicious software online and your PC left as an easy target. To be clear the kernal is a big communicator to your PC that ensures smooth operation and execution of user inputs. PC World has put it best, stating “It has complete control over your operating system. Your PC needs to switch between user mode and kernel mode thousands of times a day, making sure instructions and data flow seamlessly and instantaneously.”
Thankfully, this scary situation is easily nullified by simply updating your operating system’s security software. Intel assures us that this issue will be worked on in future CPUs, but for now, it’s best to ensure that your operating system of choice is as up to date as it possibly can be. In a response statement, Intel says “Intel is committed to product and customer security and is working closely with many other technology companies, including AMD, ARM Holdings and several operating system vendors, to develop an industry-wide approach to resolve this issue promptly and constructively. Intel has begun providing software and firmware updates to mitigate these exploits. Contrary to some reports, any performance impacts are workload-dependent, and, for the average computer user, should not be significant and will be mitigated over time.”
Whichever way the issue gets fixed for you personally, there will be an inescapable risk of losing out on game performance. This is due to added instructions being processed through the CPU, taking away a few non physical resources from your rig. A Reddit user on r/pcgaming has helpfully run several benchmark tests before and after updating his PC’s security software. The results seem to vary from game to game with a performance loss ranging from 1.5% to 13.1%. In many cases, the performance loss appears negligible.
In other news relating to the Intel bug, AMD has stated that, due to the physical hardware of their CPUs, “There is a near zero risk of exploitation…Vulnerability to [malware attacks] has not been demonstrated on AMD processors to date”. Although, having the right CPU at the right time, it seems, may not save you altogether.
Fans of Fortnite may experience some issues in the coming days. As their co-op wave survival game depends on cloud servers to run, essential updates have been necessary. As a result, Fortnite players may experience performance loss during vanilla game and Battle Royale matches. On Twitter, Fortnite said “Our cloud services were affected by updates required to mitigate the Meltdown vulnerability. We rely on cloud services to run our backend and we may experience further service issues in the next few days due to ongoing updates.”