Intel Trying to Hide Performance Drops With Shady License Small Print

Thu, Aug 23, 2018

In a shady move, Intel has added some small print to the latest license agreement on its updated CPU microcode. After the last debacle with microcode patches designed to mitigate Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, which - depending on your use case - led to severe drops in performance, Intel is now trying to keep you from publishing benchmarks. The new license post-update contains the following lines:

You will not, and will not allow any third party to
*Snip*
(v) publish or provide any Software benchmark or comparison test results.

You can read this as “And if our firmware patches fuck up your CPU performance even more then you are not allowed to talk about it while we still claim in advertisements that our CPUs are blazingly fast.”

Luckily, Debian GNU/Linux is not having it and has decided not to publish microcode updates till the license issue is taken care of. Here is the corresponding bug tracker entry where new updates to the issue might also appear. One thing to take away from this is that apparently Intel wants to be able to tell you what kind of things you are allowed to use your CPU for. Luckily, with the recently launched Ryzen 2 lineup and the new Threadripper 2 CPUs that are due for release this month, AMD is already a great alternative, even for gaming. In light of Intels license fuckups this decision has just been made even simpler.

Update: Intel is now backpedaling and changing its license once again. The Streisand effect got to them first though and now the news is out. Having to disable hyperthreading in order for the fix to work is bound to have a huge performance impact and Intels foolish try to suppress their customers certainly did not help their credibility. Once again: AMD Threadripper, here I come :)