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iOS Spectre Security Patch Cuts iPhone 6 Performance 40%

Apple Supplier Shares Plunge over In-House Power-Management Chips
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Following last week’s discovery of the massive Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, Apple quickly put together a software update intended to patch the issues, which took the form of its latest iOS 11.2.2 software update.

According to Melv1n — a self-described tech product management blog, whose founder of the same name touts over a decade of experience building and managing tech products — his iPhone 6 took as much as a 41 percent performance hit in single-core benchmark scores after updating to iOS 11.2.2.

We knew in all fairness to expect some degree of reduced performance on our  iOS devices as the result of ‘Spectre’, in particular — which reports said is designed specifically to take advantage of “speculative execution mechanisms” on a CPU.  Meaning these extremely serious flaws are the result of internal hardware flaws, themselves, which are believed to be present in billions of Intel- and ARM-powered devices, globally.

Melvin’s Methods

To obtain his results, Melvin explains that he used an iPhone 6 to record benchmark scores both before and after updating it to the latest version iOS 11.2.2. He claims to have tested the device in both before/after instances ensuring it’s “the exact same scenario” where no apps are running in the background.

iPhone 6 Performance Scores

Overall performance scores, which were tested via GeekBench, showed staggering reductions of as much as 41 and 39 percent in single- and multi-core testing, respectively. The single-core test result dropped from 1,561 to just 924 after the upgrade, while multi-core performance was just marginally “better,” dropping 39 percent from 2,665 down to 1,616.

Melvin carried out a range of additional, single- and multi-core performance tests — revealing even more troubling performance discrepancies as the result of this week’s update.

HTML 5 DOM performance, for example, took a massive 56 percent hit in single-core tests, while same took a 36 percent hit in multi-core testing. HTML 5 DOM, short for Document Object Model, is also known as the web-browser generated JavaScript code used to render HTML graphics and content on the web.

It’s not terribly surprising to see that something related to JavaScript was most severely impacted by the patch. Apple mentioned JavaScript, specifically, in its official press release covering these so-called speculative execution vulnerabilities.

Final Thoughts

As we can easily see and discern for ourselves based on some of these findings, Melvin concludes that “all numbers point to the same conclusion” which is sizable performance reductions across the board, at almost every level.

While troubling, to be sure, we strongly recommend taking these numbers with a huge grain of salt for now. Melvin’s isolated test results may have revealed what they did, however even he alleges that others around the web have indicated differing results — with some users suggesting the discrepancies could even be the result of a completely unrelated issue, such as Apple’s freshly exposed battery-throttling debacle.

Ultimately, we’ll just have to wait for further analysis, and perhaps a comment from Apple on these preliminary reports, before we get a better idea of what’s actually going on here.

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