Adaptive Voltage Overclock Offers Performance Enhancement in Processors

October 2, 2020 Cadence PCB Solutions

Key Takeaways

  • Adaptive voltage overclock is an approach where the computer components' clock speed is raised by increasing the DC voltage supply.

  • Adaptive voltage overclock runs the CPU faster, enhancing the performance of the system.

  • Overheating is one of the issues to be cautious of during adaptive voltage overclocking. 

 Adaptive voltage overclocking makes the CPU run faster than specified by the manufacturer

Adaptive voltage overclocking accelerates computer performance.  

Power and thermal management play a crucial role in enhancing computer performance. In computer architecture, operating limits are traditionally put on power and temperature. The computer executes the instructions obeying these constraints, even if the computer can smoothly operate with less power consumption. This strategy can backfire when the computer performance is relying on a lot of power.

In computer processors, the DC voltage supply ❲VCore or core voltage❳ is limited in the process of maintaining power-delivery constraints. The power consumption of a processor controls logic state transitions in MOSFET based switching circuits. Hence, a default frequency or clock speed is set for the processor operation based on power supply constraints. An index called Voltage Identification Definition ❲VID❳ determines the core voltage for the stable working of the processor at the default clock speed. The workloads on the processor have zero influence in this conventional approach. The core voltage characteristics remain constant for intense—as well as meager—core activities.

Adaptive voltage overclocking is the approach in which the clock speed of the processor is raised by increasing the core voltage to maintain system stability. During events of under-voltage supplied to the CPU, the computer may encounter various problems such as crashes, hangs, booting issues, and degraded performances. The gradual increase in voltage aids in attaining perfect overclocking, thereby ensuring CPU stability. 

Brief Overview of Adaptive Voltage Overclock 

If you are a computer gaming enthusiast, you might have heard of or used overclocking for a better gaming experience. The adaptive overclock is comparable to doping in sports. With doping, athletes take performance-enhancing drugs in order to improve their performance greatly. Similarly, in overclocking, computer components undergo adaptive voltage overclock for a performance boost. Adaptive overclocking can boost the performance of an old PC as well. Usually, processors are the most commonly overclocked components in computers, followed by RAMs, motherboards, and GPUs

Adaptive voltage overclock requires running a processor at a clock speed higher than that specified by the manufacturer for its stable performance, by increasing the Vcore. The adaptive or dynamic voltage overclock approach can be applied to other computer components as well, but you need to be cautious of overheating. If the heat generated is not dissipated effectively, it can end up ruining the computer hardware.

When you overclock a processor, the voltage supplied to logic circuits is increased, which facilitates frequent logic transitions. The speeding up of the logic switching activities makes the processor perform more operations per second. In simple words, you can say adaptive voltage overclocking leads to a faster CPU. There are a lot of complexities associated with CPU overclocking. You need to change the fan speed and other features of fragile components once CPU overclock setting changes are made. If you fail to give due importance to any of them, you may burn the CPU.

CPU overheating.

Overheating is a critical issue of adaptive voltage overclocking in CPUs. 

Procedure for Adaptive Voltage Overclocking in CPUs

If you are running high-end games, 3D imaging programs, complex software, or professional video editing applications, CPU overclocking can offer an improved experience. For implementing CPU adaptive voltage overclock, you can follow the basic steps given below:

  1. Run the latest BIOS version for the motherboard.

  2. Make sure all the settings are on default, especially the voltage settings.

  3. Rule out any RAM instability using XMP profile settings and reboot the system for loading the same properly.

  4. Go back to the BIOS settings to define the target clock speed or frequency.

  5. Go to the frequency settings and set the CPU clock ratio so that the following equation is satisfied:

Target CPU frequency= CPU clock ratio Host Clock Value 

  1. Go to the CPU Vcore voltage control settings. This is the most sensitive part of dynamic or adaptive voltage overclocking.

  2. In CPU Vcore, change the status to ‘normal’ from default ‘auto’ so that the voltage adjustment is enabled.

  3. Set the Dynamic Vcore voltage corresponding to the target frequency already set in step 5. Pick an intermediate value, say +0.025 V. Refrain from too high or too low values, as it can cause system instabilities and CPU damage. The + sign preceding the dynamic Vcore shows the increment in voltage for achieving overclocking. 

  4. Save settings and boot into the operating system.

  5. If you want to view the processor speed, voltage, and temperature, you can install a hardware monitoring software. If you are not satisfied with the performance, you can vary the voltage in steps by following instructions 1 through 9.

  6. For each voltage adjustment, view the maximum clock speed, voltages, and temperatures. Adjust until maximum frequency is attained with the lowest voltage, satisfying the thermal constraints.

You can rely on stress testing software to ensure the stability and safety of the CPU after adaptive voltage overclocking. Sometimes additional fans and larger heat sinks are needed to dissipate the extra heat generated from adaptive voltage overclocking. This is found to be the greatest drawback of adaptive voltage overclocking. 

Consider the Silicon Limit 

We are aware of the thermal constraints when using adaptive voltage overclocking. There is one more limit to consider—silicon limit, or silicon lottery. We know that the basic elements in the processors are solid-state chips. When we overclock, the maximum clock speed attained by various components is different. 

Some may reach the highest clock speed, whereas others start to misbehave with Vcore voltage variations, leading to reduced performance. The misbehavior of these chips is majorly due to the manufacturing differences which reflect on the leakage currents, and power consumption at various frequencies. If you are lucky enough to win the silicon lottery in your processor, your overclock will give the highest performance. Otherwise, you may eventually burn your CPU with adaptive voltage overclocking.

If you’re looking to design or create electronic circuits that can withstand and coincide with adaptive voltage overclock, using strong layout and analysis tools will get you there. Allegro PCB Designer is the chosen option for the best electronics design. 

If you’re looking to learn more about how Cadence has the solution for you, talk to us and our team of experts.

 

About the Author

Cadence PCB solutions is a complete front to back design tool to enable fast and efficient product creation. Cadence enables users accurately shorten design cycles to hand off to manufacturing through modern, IPC-2581 industry standard.

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