Workaround for Intel throttling issues in Linux.
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Latest commit 33f0412 Feb 18, 2019

README.md

Fix Intel CPU Throttling on Linux

This tool was originally developed to fix Linux CPU throttling issues affecting Lenovo T480 / T480s / X1C6 as described here.

The CPU package power limit (PL1/2) is forced to a value of 44 W (29 W on battery) and the temperature trip point to 95 'C (85 'C on battery) by overriding default values in MSR and MCHBAR every 5 seconds (30 on battery) to block the Embedded Controller from resetting these values to default.

Tested hardware

Other users have confirmed that the tool is also working for these laptops:

  • Lenovo T480, T480s, X1C5, X1C6, T580, L480, T470, X280, ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25
  • Dell XPS 9365, 9370, Latitude 7390 2-in-1
  • Microsoft Surface Book 2

I will keep this list updated.

Is this tool really doing something on my PC??

I suggest you to use the excellent s-tui tool to check and monitor the CPU usage, frequency, power and temperature under load!

Undervolt

The tool now also supports undervolting the CPU by configuring voltage offsets for CPU, cache, GPU, System Agent and Analog I/O planes. The tool will re-apply undervolt on resume from standby and hibernate by listening to DBus signals. You can now either use the UNDERVOLT key in config to set global values or the UNDERVOLT.AC and UNDERVOLT.BATTERY keys to selectively set undervolt values for the two power profiles.

HWP override (EXPERIMENTAL)

I have found that under load my CPU was not always hitting max turbo frequency, in particular when using one/two cores only. For instance, when running prime95 (1 core, test #1) my CPU is limited to about 3500 MHz over the theoretical 4000 MHz maximum. The reason is the value for the HWP energy performance hints. By default TLP sets this value to balance_performance on AC in order to reduce the power consumption/heat in idle. By setting this value to performance I was able to reach 3900 MHz in the prime95 single core test, achieving a +400 MHz boost. Since this value forces the CPU to full speed even during idle, a new experimental feature allows to automatically set HWP to performance under load and revert it to balanced when idle. This feature can be enabled (in AC mode only) by setting to True the HWP_Mode parameter in the config file.

I have run Geekbench 4 and now I can get a score of 5391/17265! On balance_performance I can reach only 4672/16129, so 15% improvement in single core and 7% in multicore, not bad ;)

setting cTDP (EXPERIMENTAL)

On a lot of modern CPUs from Intel one can configure the TDP up or down based on predefined profiles. This is what this option does. For a i7-8650U normal would be 15W, up profile is setting it to 25W and down to 10W. You can lookup the values of your CPU at the Intel product website.

Requirements

A stripped down version of the python module python-periphery is now built-in and it is used for accessing the MCHBAR register by memory mapped I/O. You also need dbus and gobject python bindings for listening to dbus signals on resume from sleep/hibernate.

Writing to MSR and PCI BAR

Right now it is mandatory to disable Secure Boot (in BIOS) in order to avoid Kernel Lockdown. In particular Lockdown restricts access to MSR and PCI BAR (via /dev/mem) which are required by this tool. Note that some kernels (e.g. linux-hardened) will prevent from writing to /dev/mem too. Specifically, you need a kernel with CONFIG_DEVMEM and CONFIG_X86_MSR set.

Thermald

As discovered by DEvil0000 the Linux Thermal Monitor (thermald) can conflict with the purpose of this tool. In particular, thermald might be pre-installed (e.g. on Ubuntu) and configured in such a way to keep the CPU temperature below a certain threshold (~80 'C) by applying throtthling or messing up with RAPL or other CPU-specific registers. I strongly suggest to either disable/uninstall it or to review its default configuration.

Update

The tool is now running with Python3 by default (tested w/ 3.6) and a virtualenv is automatically created in /opt/lenovo_fix. Python2 should probably still work.

Installation

Arch Linux AUR package:

yay -S lenovo-throttling-fix-git
sudo systemctl enable --now lenovo_fix.service

Thanks to felixonmars for creating and maintaining this package.

Debian/Ubuntu

sudo apt install git build-essential python3-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libgirepository1.0-dev libcairo2-dev python3-venv python3-wheel
git clone https://github.com/erpalma/lenovo-throttling-fix.git
sudo ./lenovo-throttling-fix/install.sh

If you own a X1C6 you can also check a tutorial for Ubuntu 18.04 here.

You should make sure that thermald is not setting it back down. Stopping/disabling it will do the trick:

sudo systemctl stop thermald.service
sudo systemctl disable thermald.service

If you want to keep it disabled even after a package update you should also run:

sudo systemctl mask thermald.service

Fedora

sudo dnf install python3-cairo-devel cairo-gobject-devel gobject-introspection-devel dbus-glib-devel python3-devel make libX11-devel
git clone https://github.com/erpalma/lenovo-throttling-fix.git
sudo ./lenovo-throttling-fix/install.sh

Feedback about Fedora installation is welcome.

openSUSE

User brycecordill reported that the following dependencies are required for installing in openSUSE, tested on openSUSE 15.0 Leap.

sudo zypper install gcc python3-devel dbus-1-glib-devel python3-cairo-devel cairo-devel python3-gobject-cairo gobject-introspection-devel
git clone https://github.com/erpalma/lenovo-throttling-fix.git
sudo ./lenovo-throttling-fix/install.sh

Gentoo

An overlay is available.

layman -o https://github.com/erpalma/throttled-overlay/raw/master/repositories.xml -f -a throttled
sudo emerge -av sys-power/throttled
systemctl enable throttled.service
systemctl start throttled.service

Uninstall

To permanently stop and disable the execution just issue:

systemctl stop lenovo_fix.service
systemctl disable lenovo_fix.service

If you also need to remove the tool from the system:

rm -rf /opt/lenovo_fix /etc/systemd/system/lenovo_fix.service
# to purge also the config file
rm /etc/lenovo_fix.conf

On Arch you should probably use pacman -R lenovo-throttling-fix-git instead.

Update

If you update the tool you should manually check your config file for changes or additional features and modify it accordingly. The update process is then as simple as:

cd lenovo-throttling-fix
git pull
sudo ./install.sh
sudo systemctl restart lenovo_fix.service

Configuration

The configuration has moved to /etc/lenovo_fix.conf. Makefile does not overwrite your previous config file, so you need to manually check for differences in config file structure when updating the tool. If you want to overwrite the config with new defaults just issue sudo cp etc/lenovo_fix.conf /etc. There exist two profiles AC and BATTERY and the tool can be totally disabled by setting Enabled: False in the GENERAL section. Undervolt is applied if any voltage plane in the config file (section UNDERVOLT) was set. Notice that the offset is in mV and only undervolting (i.e. negative values) is supported. All fields accept floating point values as well as integers.

My T480s with i7-8550u is stable with:

[UNDERVOLT]
# CPU core voltage offset (mV)
CORE: -105
# Integrated GPU voltage offset (mV)
GPU: -85
# CPU cache voltage offset (mV)
CACHE: -105
# System Agent voltage offset (mV)
UNCORE: -85
# Analog I/O voltage offset (mV)
ANALOGIO: 0

IMPORTANT: Please notice that my system is stable with these values. Your notebook might crash even with slight undervolting! You should test your system and slowly incresing undervolt to find the maximum stable value for your CPU. You can check this tutorial if you don't know where to start.

Monitoring

With the flag --monitor the tool constantly monitors the throttling status, indicating the cause among thermal limit, power limit, current limit or cross-origin. The last cause is often related to an external event (e.g. by the GPU). The update rate can be adjusted and defaults to 1 second. Example output:

./lenovo_fix.py --monitor
Thermal: OK - Power: OK - Current: OK - Cross-comain (e.g. GPU): OK  ||  VCore: 533 mV - Package: 2.2 W - Graphics: 0.3 W - DRAM: 0.8 W

Debug

You can enable the --debug option to read back written values and check if the tool is working properly. At the statup it will also show the CPUs platform info which contains information about multiplier values and features present for this CPU. Additionally the tool will print the thermal status per core which is handy when it comes to figuring out the reason for CPU throttle. Status fields stands for the current throttle reason or condition and log shows if this was a throttle reason since the last interval. This is an example output:

./lenovo_fix.py --debug
[D] cpu platform info: maximum non turbo ratio = 20
[D] cpu platform info: maximum efficiency ratio = 4
[D] cpu platform info: minimum operating ratio = 4
[D] cpu platform info: feature ppin cap = 0
[D] cpu platform info: feature programmable turbo ratio = 1
[D] cpu platform info: feature programmable tdp limit = 1
[D] cpu platform info: number of additional tdp profiles = 2
[D] cpu platform info: feature programmable temperature target = 1
[D] cpu platform info: feature low power mode = 1
[D] TEMPERATURE_TARGET - write 0xf - read 0xf
[D] Undervolt plane CORE - write 0xf2800000 - read 0xf2800000
[D] Undervolt plane GPU - write 0xf5200000 - read 0xf5200000
[D] Undervolt plane CACHE - write 0xf2800000 - read 0xf2800000
[D] Undervolt plane UNCORE - write 0xf5200000 - read 0xf5200000
[D] Undervolt plane ANALOGIO - write 0x0 - read 0x0
[D] MSR PACKAGE_POWER_LIMIT - write 0xcc816000dc80e8 - read 0xcc816000dc80e8
[D] MCHBAR PACKAGE_POWER_LIMIT - write 0xcc816000dc80e8 - read 0xcc816000dc80e8
[D] TEMPERATURE_TARGET - write 0xf - read 0xf
[D] core 0 thermal status: thermal throttle status = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: thermal throttle log = 1
[D] core 0 thermal status: prochot or forcepr event = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: prochot or forcepr log = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: crit temp status = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: crit temp log = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: thermal threshold1 status = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: thermal threshold1 log = 1
[D] core 0 thermal status: thermal threshold2 status = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: thermal threshold2 log = 1
[D] core 0 thermal status: power limit status = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: power limit log = 1
[D] core 0 thermal status: current limit status = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: current limit log = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: cross domain limit status = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: cross domain limit log = 0
[D] core 0 thermal status: cpu temp = 44
[D] core 0 thermal status: temp resolution = 1
[D] core 0 thermal status: reading valid = 1
.....

Disclaimer

This script overrides the default values set by Lenovo. I'm using it without any problem, but it is still experimental so use it at your own risk.