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The impact of Meltdown and Spectre patches on Windows 10

Meltdown and Spectre

Over the last weeks a lot has already been written about the supposedly high impact that the patches of both Meltdown and Spectre will have on the performance of computer systems but even experts do not yet agree how big the impact will be on centralized desktop environments such as Microsoft RDS, Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop and of course VMware Horizon causing a lot of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt.

As Login VSI is considered the Industry standard test for these platforms my mailbox, twitter stream and our company support inbox quickly filled up with requests asking us to share our insights, so we have decided to do just that. However, please keep in mind that results may vary depending on hard and software that you use.

To allow everyone to repeat these tests in their own environment Login VSI has decided to offer free licenses to all that want to test the impact of Meltdown and Spectre in their own environment helping the EUC community.

I’ll outline these results in a series of articles in the upcoming time, starting with this one describing our test-infrastructure and the results of the first performance tests with Windows 10.

Results:

To fully understand the conclusions a basic understanding of the VSImax and VSIbase is recommended, please check the Login VSI documentation if you are not familiar with these numbers.

VSImax = The number of users that can work on a system comfortably before performance is impacted (scale). Higher is better.

VSIbase = The performance of the system when there is little or no stress. If this number increases overall performance decreases. Lower is better.

Meltdown and Spectre

These tests show that the impact of Microsoft hotfix KB4056892 is measurable but not extreme. This is as expected as the hypervisor and firmware update of the CPU microcode have not been applied yet.

The lab:

Automate, Automate, automate. In our VDILIKEAPRO test lab we have minimized human interaction (and thus error) by making sure all processes are executed fully automatic for example the base images are created using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit where after PowerShell magic (thanks Henk & Sonny!) takes over and automatically clones the VM’s 180 times, prepares them for use, and runs 10 automated test cycles results are then averaged ignoring the first run.

 Login VSI Laboratories Meltdown and Spectre

Meltdown and Spectre

Next up:

Tests with windows 7, the most popular operating system in VDI currently are on the way and based on customer data that we’ve already seen I expect that the impact on performance will be bigger. All new blogs and tests will be featured in our newsletter, sign up here.

About the author

Mark Plettenberg (@markplettenberg) is a product manager of Login VSI and has played a critical role in the development and growth of Login VSI. Ask Mark about motorcycle mechanics and breaking/repairing anything and everything that has a power plug.


Tags: Login VSI, VSImax, Spectre, Meltdown, VSIbase

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