Intel recently issued an alert on the apparent threat of Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) hack attacks. These attacks are likely to affect computer systems that run 7th gen Intel CPUs and below, they said. These chips are mostly found in the Apple MacBooks.
Apple has since employed measures to mitigate this issue. However, according to the Cupertino giant, some of these mitigation measures may lead to performance dips for existing Mac and MacBook users. One of these measures, which involves the disabling of the Hyper-Threading feature, stops the processor from working at its optimal level.
Macbook and Mac performance affected after Intel MDS fix
How severe can the performance level drops can be? Well, Apple estimates that they can be as high as 40 percent in terms of public benchmarks. However, Apple did clarify that the real world, the actual impact for a user will depend on their system, and will be unique. This effect will vary depending on the usage, the configuration, and a few other factors.
Apple also sent out a reminder to owners having MacBooks and Macs running macOS 10.14.5 or later that they did not require these mitigation measures. The OS had patched any vulnerabilities beforehand.
The company also added that the mitigation was switched off by default. It was on the users to decide whether they wanted to switch it on. In simpler terms, it was a choice between privacy and security, and, performance for the MacBook and Mac users.
Apple also said that this vulnerability was most likely to be exploited only in highly sensitive data holding systems, such as high-level corporate systems. The average user, they said, was pretty much secure and could continue to enjoy the high performance on their MacBooks.
Intel, on their part, has made it clear that simply deactivating hyper-threading is not the ultimate solution for the problem of MDS exploits. They do not recommend this course of action but do agree with it being a viable short term solution. The chip-maker will be working with Apple to patch up this vulnerability in the near future as well.