Dell Technologies Conducts Performance Tests Across Portfolio To See Impact Of Meltdown, Spectre Patches


Dell Technologies is conducting performance tests across its entire product portfolio to assess the impact of the software patches used to combat the Meltdown and Spectre security issues, Dell confirmed to CRN.

On client systems running Windows 10 and Intel 7th generation processors, Dell said it sees a performance impact of 1 percent to 3 percent, in most cases.

Dell said server performance impact could "vary greatly" depending on configuration and workload.

[Related: Scale Computing CEO On 'Catastrophic' Spectre And Meltdown Performance Impact, Google Cloud Partnership And Winning Over HPE-SimpliVity Partners]

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"We will continue to evaluate all platforms including other Dell EMC infrastructure solutions," said Dell, in an email to CRN.

Dell did not detail which products may be taking a performance hit due to the Meltdown and Spectre patches.

"It will be interesting to see if any server will have a big performance impact, but anything right now would be speculation," said one top Dell EMC partner.

"Our phones aren't ringing off the hook with Dell telling us what we should do around [Meltdown and Spectre]," he said. "I trust that Dell will handle everything accordingly. If anything is significantly impacted and things needs to be done right away, I think we’d know."

At the same time, Dell said it has started rolling out BIOS (Basic Input Output System) updates and will continue over the next few weeks for potentially affected platforms across its client and infrastructure groups.

"We are rolling out updates for the most recent platforms first and will expand to older platforms as those patches become available from our vendors," said Dell in an email to CRN.

Dell said over 150 BIOS updates for client systems were issued within the first 24 hours when the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities were reported earlier this month. Approximately 50 percent of patches are available now, and the rest will be rolled out in the coming weeks, according to Dell.

Dell is urging customers to install BIOS updates for many PowerEdge Server products including dozens of models of 14th-, 13th-, 12th- and 11th-generation PowerEdge servers. Additionally, Dell published BIOS updates for Dell Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DSS) for several models including DSS9600, DSS250 and DSS7500.

Products requiring no patches or fixes include EqualLogic PS Series, SC Series, FluidFS Series, MD3 and DSMS series, PowerVault, Manager Virtual Appliance and EqualLogic Virtual Storage Manager, according to Dell.

Security researchers earlier this month disclosed two major flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, in the microprocessors inside nearly every computer. The Meltdown and Spectre exploits, found in chips from multiple vendors including Intel and AMD, can be executed against servers, mobile devices, desktops and laptops running in cloud environments.

VMware this week rolled back a recently issued security patching recommendation after pushing out Intel microcode upgrades. VMware, owned by Dell, is now referring customers and partners to an earlier security advisory document that referenced patch releases not including the code from Intel.