Intel chips affected with Kernel memory leak flaw, fix might incur performance drop: Report

Intel chips from the last ten years said to have been affected with serious Kernel memory leak issue on modern computers including Windows, Linux, and macOS, according to a report from The Register. This needs a fix at the operating system level which might incur performance drop. 

While the exact performance drop is being calculated, a rough ballpark figure suggests at a 30% drop in performance depending on the task and the processor model. The bug seems to be allowing normal user programs to see some of the contents of the protected kernel memory making it a fundamental design flaw.

The effect of this bug will let the malicious programs read the contents of the kernel memory which includes information like passwords, login keys, and more. Given the rapid changes being made to Windows and Linux operating system, it is safe to assume that the bug status is severe.

Programmers at Linux are working on overhauling the open-source kernel’s virtual memory system, and Microsoft is expected to publicly introduce the necessary changes to its Windows operating system in an upcoming Patch Tuesday.  The changes to Microsoft windows were rolled out and were in the testing phase through the Windows Insider program in November and December.

Similarly, the Apple’s 64-bit macOS will also need to be updated, though not mentioned, Apple might be working on a fix like Microsoft and Linux. Further details on the vulnerability are under wraps and the information is currently under embargo. The fix to this flaw will need the kernel’s memory be isolated from user processes using Kernel Page Table Isolation, which could lead to a performance drop.