The Meltdown vulnerability in Intel’s CPU’s dates back more than a decade, and affects every single device that uses an Intel CPU. In order to fix the issue some software side (or rather, firmware) patches had to be issued for both consumer and enterprise computers and systems. The patch for the cloud servers hosting Fortnite got hit pretty hard, since the patch not only fixes the Meltdown vulnerability but it also increases the CPU load in order to mask those vulnerabilities. Due to this, many users have been unable to log into the game or have been getting kicked, whether they’re playing on Xbox, PlayStation or PC.
Epic Games posted an apology and an explanation over on their official forums, stating that the login issues and server issues were due to the patch affecting CPU utilization for the cloud servers, and that until they can stabilize the issue, many gamers will be running into these problems.
The Fortnite team at Epic explained…
“We wanted to provide a bit more context for the most recent login issues and service instability. All of our cloud services are affected by updates required to mitigate the Meltdown vulnerability. We heavily rely on cloud services to run our back-end and we may experience further service issues due to ongoing updates.
[…] “Unexpected issues may occur with our services over the next week as the cloud services we use are updated. We are working with our cloud service providers to prevent further issues and will do everything we can to mitigate and resolve any issues that arise as quickly as possible.”
A graph was rolled out for the public to view, which details how the CPU utilization has skyrocketed after issuing the patch for the Meltdown exploit.
As a few of the bright minds in the thread explain, in order to subdue the Meltdown exploit, the patch requires additional CPU instructions in order to hide what sort of operations it’s performing under the hood. It’s like forcing the CPU to figure out a new Rubik’s cube puzzle every time it needs to perform a new action, so it’s going to take a little extra time. Of course, the more operations means more puzzles to solve, and compounding operations also means compounding the process of performing security checks, which incrementally adds up over time. As you can imagine, it all kind of slows to a crawl as the CPU attempts to prioritize security efforts over programs.
Epic, however, is still investigating ways to solve the problem, so it’s not all a bust.
Many people expected that there would be performance hits one way or another, and we’re starting to see how those fixes for Meltdown are materializing in ways that are negatively impacting end-users.
We’ll see if Epic can fix this issue before it starts causing Fortnite’s user numbers to drop, especially since the game was skyrocketing in popularity after they added the Battle Royale mode.