Intel CEO suggests chip issue may cause bigger slowdown

Register now

(Bloomberg) -- Intel Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich prefaced his annual celebration of the future of technology with a warning.

Software patches put in place to protect computers against a recently uncovered chip vulnerability will slow down machines, but have so far headed off any illicit efforts to obtain data, Krzanich said at the CES consumer electronics conference in Las Vegas on Monday. While Intel and others have previously downplayed the possible impact of the fixes, indicating that in rare cases computers might be slowed as much as 30 percent, Krzanich’s comments suggest that the problem may be more pervasive.

“We believe the performance impact of these updates is highly workload-dependent,” he said. “As a result we expect some workloads may have a larger impact than others. As of now we have not received any information that these exploits have been used to retrieve customer data.”

At CES, the Intel chief usually shows off how Intel chips have a future in new markets ranging from drones to cars. This time, he’s defending products that have long been the key components of most personal computers and internet servers -- the main providers of revenue and profit for the company.

Last week, the world’s biggest chipmakers and software companies, including Intel and Microsoft Corp., announced a vulnerability that leaves computers and smartphones susceptible to potential hacking. Google researchers last year discovered that a feature, present in almost all processors running computers and phones, could give cyberattackers unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Krzanich thanked tech companies and others for ongoing efforts made to protect computers against the new threat. He said that Intel is working with them to lessen the impact of any fixes. He urged consumers to update their computers with new software patches that are being sent out to them.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.