What has your microcode done for you lately?
Did you ever wonder what is inside those microcode updates that get silently applied to your CPU via Windows update, BIOS upgrades, and various microcode packages on Linux? Well, you are in the wrong place, because this blog post won’t answer that question (you might like this though).
In fact, the overwhelming majority of this this post is about the performance of scattered writes, and not very much at all about the details of CPU microcode. Where the microcode comes in, and what might make this more interesting than usual, is that performance on a purely CPU-bound benchmark can vary dramatically depending on microcode version. In particular, we will show that the most recent Intel microcode version can significantly slow down a store heavy workload when some stores hit in the L1 data cache, and some miss.