Spectre/Meltdown Performance Impact Across Eight Linux Distributions
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 11 March 2019. Page 2 of 4. 25 Comments

The random write performance measured by FIO varied from a 44% performance hit to just 9% depending upon the conditions. Intel's Clear Linux saw the least performance impact albeit its default configuration didn't place it the fastest overall. It is worth noting that in cases like CentOS 7 / EL7 compared to RHEL 8 Beta, the newer version of Red Hat's distribution in its mitigated configuration places it at around the same level as the unmitigated state of EL7... There's been a lot of kernel improvements over the past few years!

The PostMark results were a similar story to FIO for the I/O performance impact from Spectre and Meltdown. The fastest unmitigated distribution was openSUSE 15.0 while with its default mitigations the performance was similar to a mitigated RHEL8 Beta or unmitigated CentOS 7. Clear Linux, Ubuntu 18.10, Manjaro 18.0.3, and Fedora 29 with their relatively recent upstream kernel components saw roughly the same performance and associated overhead.

The t-test1 memory allocator benchmarks also showed some overhead to these mitigations.

The Ethr network performance costs of Spectre/Meltdown were the lowest with the newest Linux distributions and generally the fastest for raw performance.

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