New Utility Fixes Home windows Defender Hogging CPU Time on Intel CPUs

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Kevin Glynn, aka Uncle Webb at TechSpot, has developed a number of helpful freeware utilities like ThrottleStop and RealTemp over time. In the middle of creating these applications he found a curious conduct in Home windows Defender with Intel CPUs. Home windows Defender is the software program included with Home windows to guard your PC from malware and viruses. Webb found that at random intervals Defender would all of the sudden start utilizing extreme CPU assets. In some instances it can lead to as much as six % decrease efficiency. Fortunately Webb has created a free utility to resolve the difficulty, and it’s known as Counter Management. Observe this conduct has been reported to this point with Intel eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh gen CPUs on Home windows 10 and 11. AMD CPUs usually are not affected in any respect.

Right here’s a easy rationalization of the state of affairs. Intel CPUs embrace three fastened perform {hardware} efficiency counters for every thread. They’re designed to be a shared useful resource, so temperature and efficiency instruments can entry them. They can be utilized both by the OS or the person. These three counters might be programmed to considered one of 4 modes reflecting completely different ranges of privilege. These embrace Disabled, OS entry (Ring-0), Consumer (ring>0), and all-ring ranges. Most efficiency monitoring instruments set this to “all-ring ranges” or Mode 3. This enables any program to entry them with no points. Nevertheless, Home windows Defender’s Actual-time Safety notification characteristic will attempt to change all three to Mode 2 at random intervals. That is the crux of the difficulty, as Defender will use CPU time making an attempt to alter the standing of the counters. For those who’re curious, you possibly can load up HWINFO and put the CPU beneath full load. If would possibly report a barely decrease most clock pace. The software program’s writer says that is possible Defender making an attempt to make use of the counters, and interfering with HWINFO.

What I noticed after a contemporary boot. The 0x222 means Defender is utilizing the counters.

So far as it affecting efficiency, it could actually have a noticeable impression, not less than in benchmarks. One instance based on TechPowerUp makes use of a Core i9-10850K operating at 5GHz. It confirmed a decreased Cinebench R23 benchmark rating of ~1000 factors (16800 vs 15800). Your humble writer did the identical take a look at on his personal Intel eleventh gen CPU. I ran Cinebench R23 and with my PC “as is” and bought a rating of 11,158. Subsequent, I downloaded the utility and clicked “reset counters” and ran it once more. My rating with the counters reset was 12,163; which is 8.6 % uplift. That mentioned, I’ve had this technique for roughly a 12 months now and it’s by no means felt sluggish or unresponsive. It options an Intel Core i7-11700KF, 32GB of DDR4, and a PCIe 3.0 NVME SSD.

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If you fireplace up the utility, which might be downloaded right here, you’ll see the standing of the “IA32_FIXED_CTR_CTRL” register on Intel CPUs. Right here’s tips on how to interpret the quantity you see, copied from TechPowerUp:

  • Not Used – 0x000: The three fastened perform counters are stopped. Not one of the counters are presently getting used.
  • Defender – 0x222: All three fastened perform counters are programmed to mode 2. That is the worth that Home windows Defender units these counters to when it’s utilizing them.
  • Regular – 0x330: Two counters are programmed to mode 3. One counter is programmed to mode 0 and isn’t getting used. That is regular. Most monitoring applications that use these counters will program the counter management register to this worth.
  • Warning – 0x332: That is proven when two counters are getting used usually by monitoring software program whereas the third counter has been set to mode 2, possible by Home windows Defender. This can be a warning that two completely different applications is perhaps combating over management of the shared counters. You would possibly see the counter management register continually altering between 0x222 and 0x332. That is what you will notice when operating HWiNFO if Home windows Defender is making an attempt to make use of the IA32_FIXED perform counters on the identical time.

For those who use the utility and click on “reset counters,” it should resolve the difficulty. Defender won’t attempt to change it again all through that session. For those who reboot, you’ll need to test it once more. As far precise fixes go, you possibly can at all times disable Home windows Defender’s real-time notification system, however that’s not advisable. Nevertheless, if you wish to do it anyway, right here’s the way you do it. On Home windows Professional OSes, go to the Native Group Coverage Editor (gpedit.exe). Subsequent navigate to “Laptop Configuration / Administrative Templates / Home windows Elements / Microsoft Defender Antivirus / Actual-time Safety.” Right here you possibly can allow “Flip off real-time safety.”

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For those who’re on Home windows Dwelling, you’ll need to edit the registry. Navigate to ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftHome windows DefenderReal-Time Safety. Subsequent, if you don’t see a price known as DisableRealtimeMonitoring, proper click on and create a brand new DWORD worth. Title this DWORD worth DisableRealtimeMonitoring and set this to a price of 1.

If you wish to depart Defender alone, it’s also possible to run ThrottleStop.  It has a characteristic known as “Home windows Defender Increase.” Enabling it it prompts one of many programmable timers. Home windows Defender will discover this and stop making an attempt to entry them till the system is restarted.

The software program’s writer is curious to see if extra individuals are experiencing this situation. Hopefully, he writes, if sufficient individuals complain about it, Microsoft will repair Defender, completely.

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