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Intel Turbo Boost technology

February 15th, 2011

Intel Turbo Boost is a technology that increases core performance by allowing a core to run faster than its base operating frequency, within certain limitations.  Included in some of Intel’s Nehalem CPUs, such as Core- i5 and Core-i7, Intel Turbo Boost is an innovative way to take idle core power and put it to good use, while maintaining safe processor working conditions. 

 As a processor runs, not all cores are necessarily active at the highest possible rate.  Turbo Boost allows that extra power to be used either to maximize the performance of an active core, or to be transferred to another active core.  The operating system requests what is called the “highest processor performance state” (P0).  The processor then increases the clock frequency incrementally until certain conditions are met.  This is also known as “dynamic overclocking”.

Check this out

The Intel core i5-460M as well as the Core i3-380M are both 2.53 GHz processors. The only major difference is that turbo boost enabled in core i5-460M . So what is the difference in performance ? Check this out in Core i5-460M Vs Core i3-380M Comparison.

 Multiple algorithms run in the background in order to know when the clock must increase or decrease.  Since it is important for the processor to remain within specifications for safe operating, three conditions are monitored.  First, the current consumption sets an upper boundary on the clock speed.  Second, power consumption cannot exceed its upper limit.  Third, the processor temperature must stay under the specification limit.

 As long as the processor is running safely and within power, current, and thermal specifications, Turbo Boost allows the clock to continue to increase in frequency.  The time that the processor can operate in Turbo Boost mode therefore will vary based on operating conditions. 

 Both multi-threaded and single-threaded work loads can benefit from this.  In ideal conditions, where a single threaded execution occurs and three other cores remain idle, enormous increase in productivity can be seen.  It has been estimated that a 100% increase, equivalent to about 1.2 GHz, is possible.   Turbo Boost technology is not restricted to any specific number of cores, and all major operating systems are compatible with the technology.  No extra software or drivers are required.  The option to disable Turbo Boost is available in the BIOS.

The amazing aspect of Turbo Boost is its ability to dynamically increase and decrease clock speed based on processor conditions.  Continual assessments are made to be sure that power draw, current consumption, and thermal conditions are acceptable.   As long as these conditions are met, the processor will continue to increase core frequency in steps of 133.33 MHz until either the number of active cores limits the increase or the operating system no longer demands more performance.

 Although it is rare to see a maximum performance increase, Intel’s Turbo Boost is quite innovative.  Even a slight increase in performance is appreciated by any user, and its potential for major performance assistance is especially noteworthy.

 

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