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Facts: Turbo Boost

Discussion in 'Lenovo' started by wallmage, May 1, 2010.

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  1. wallmage

    wallmage Notebook Consultant

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    I've been very happy with my newly purchased x201s for 2 weeks. Turbo boost is a cool feature on Intel's latest platform. (available only on core i5, i7)

    In this post, I'd like to share some tips about Power Manager settings and how these settings affect Turbo Boost. All facts are based on my experiences.

    1, How to tell if Turbo Boost is working properly?

    Power Manager status is the easiest way. If it's working properly, you'll find a green check mark sign, saying "Intel Turbo boost technology enabled" (Power Manager basic mode display)

    [​IMG]

    If you don't see this green check mark, that means something goes wrong with your settings and turbo boost is not working.
    [​IMG]

    Intel developed a desktop gadget "Intel® Turbo Boost Technology Monitor". This sidebar gadget shows when Intel® Turbo Boost Technology is active and your current CPU speed, graphically.

    2, How does Turbo Boost work?

    The purpose of Turbo boost is to "dig all your computing potential within the limit of power consumption and thermal control". The latest Intel platform combines CPU and GPU in a single unit. For example, the TDP of my core i7 640LM is 25W, meaning that CPU and GPU share this 25W power. The original speed is 2.13G, Turbo boost can overlock the CPU dynamically in 6 levels:2.26g, 2.4g, 2.53g, 2.66g, 2.8g, 2.93g.

    Power consumption and thermal control are the constraints. It has to make sure that your CPU+GPU will not consume too much power (below 25w) or overheat. If either constraint is met, Turbo boost will lower the speed or stop working.

    Turbo boost works in these three scenarios:

    a, Your current task only utilizes one CPU unit. Turbo boost will shut down the other core, and drive the working unit to its highest possible speed, all the way up to 2.93G.

    b, Your current tasks utilize two CPU cores, but there's still some headroom within the constraints. But you cannot get 2.93g the highest speed.
    (i tested wPrime many times. the default settings is 4 thread, CPU works at 2.26g and 2.4g; i manually set it to single thread and got 2.93g)

    c, Your CPU works at full load but GPU is empty. In this scenario GPU consumes very little power, turbo boost will assign most of the TDP to CPU.
    If both CPU and GPU are fully load (for example, gaming), turbo boost can automatically figure out the optimized solution to make sure you get the best overall performance.

    3, What's the benefit and trade-off of Turbo Boost?
    wPrime is an extreme example. (CPU working at full speed, GPU is idle). Turbo boost enabled, i got 24s; without turbo boost the score is 28s. From my experiences, you'll get performance increase up to 10%, depends on your tasks. But actually you cannot feel it in most cases because the CPU is already too FAST. Can you tell the differences between 135mph and 150mph without the dashboard? But even you cannot feel it, it's still better than nothing, right?

    Turbo boost works automatically without users' intervention. The bad thing is, Turbo boost will generate more heat and consume more power. The best practice is to enable Turbo boost in AC mode and disable it in battery mode.

    4, Why turbo boost is not working?
    Under these situations, you cannot see the green check mark and turbo boost is not working properly.

    a), Your computer is working in the dock station, with external monitor, keyboard and mice, the lid is closed.

    The closed lid blocks the heat coming out from the keyboard. Turbo boost is disabled automatically to prevent overheat.

    b), Make sure you have the latest Intel chipset and display driver. (intel HD graphics driver is a combo driver, contains 3 modules: intel HD graphics,intel display audio, and "intel turbo boost technology driver")

    you'll find a new device called "Intel(R) Turbo Boost Technology Driver"
    [​IMG]

    c), 3 Power Manager settings affect turbo boost.

    Maximum CPU speed: "Highest" and "Adaptive" enable turbo boost, "Low" and "Lowest" disable turbo boost.

    Optimize Fan control: Only Maximum performance enables turbo boost. "Balanced" and "Reduce noise dynamically" disables turbo boost.
    The reason is, turbo boost generates extra heat, thus the fan will be more noisy.

    System cooling policy: you have to set it to "Active" not "Passive" to enable turbo boost.

    At last, I want to clear a misunderstood point:
    Turbo boost CAN work in battery mode, though in practice we don't want it in battery mode in order to increase battery life. If you set CPU to "adaptive" or "highest", fan control to "maximum performance", cooling policy to "active", turbo boost will work in both AC mode and battery mode.
     
    Gunnar Snellman likes this.
  2. elixiash

    elixiash Notebook Consultant

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    Nice write-up! :)
     
  3. jonlumpkin

    jonlumpkin NBR Transmogrifier

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    Great write up. +rep
     
  4. lkpcampion

    lkpcampion Notebook Consultant

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    I don't have that green mark in power manager, and there is no Intel TurboBoost Driver in device manager, but my turboboost seems working fine. Performance indicator in my task manager says often my CPU frequency is 114% of max frequency. Intel's TurboBoost monitor gadget says it's overclocked to 3.06GHz too. Wonder why there would be a difference from your case.
     
  5. phamily

    phamily Newbie

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    I dont have that green mark in power manager also but i do have the turbobost driver in device manager. My driver version differs from yours, seems like mines is a older version but when i try and update it says it is up to date.
     
  6. thinkpad knows best

    thinkpad knows best Notebook Deity

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    This still makes me want to stick to Core 2's for the next couple years, at least Core 2 Quad's.
     
  7. mike5065

    mike5065 Notebook Consultant

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    What does?
     
  8. TheCodeBreaker

    TheCodeBreaker 7H3 1337

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    Thanks for the Facts! +rep
     
  9. thinkpad knows best

    thinkpad knows best Notebook Deity

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    The whole article.. more trouble than Turbo Boost is worth if you ask me, more things to go awry too.
     
  10. mike5065

    mike5065 Notebook Consultant

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    I'm looking forward to when all the configuration tools are "unified" and not stepping on each other (BIOS, Windows7, PM). I wouldn't want to trouble shoot it for friends. Plus, there are bugs. But the boost on my i5-520 from 2.4 -> 2.93, on-demand, has been useful, so a good step in the right direction.
     
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