Based on testing results from an updated version of AMD processor microcode that closes the recently identified Inception vulnerability, most workloads experienced almost no performance degradation. However, the unfortunate exception was a noticeable slowdown in the work of the free GIMP graphics editor.
resource authors Phoronix conducted a comparative performance test of systems with AMD processors with updated firmware that closes the Inception vulnerability and without it. The firmware patch has only been released for processors based on AMD Zen 3 and Zen 4 microarchitectures, as the Zen and Zen 2 issue is addressed at the operating system level. For the experiment, we selected an AMD EPYC 7763 (Milan, Zen 3) server processor running Ubuntu 22.04 LTS and a consumer AMD Ryzen 9 7950X. The first performed almost the same both with and without the Inception patch.
The second showed a drop of just 1% in the 3DMark Wild Life test, almost guaranteeing performance on gaming tasks. With 7-Zip data compression, the performance loss of the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X was 5%. An 8% increase in Linux kernel compile time, which isn’t much either. There may only be cause for concern among users who work with graphic editors. Although Darktable’s RAW image editor was 4% slower, GIMP (a free, open-source image editor positioned as a free alternative to Photoshop) suffered significantly more. When running the image rotation tool, performance dropped by 28%; the unsharp filter (unsharp mask) started to work 24% slower; and image resizing slowed down by 18%.
Similar tests were recently conducted for a patch that closes the Downfall vulnerability on Intel processors, information about which was released at the same time as Inception. For some tasks, the drop in performance reached 39%. Maybe AMD and Intel will find a way to optimize the updated firmware in the future. Until then, users face a dilemma: security or speed.