(Solved/irrelevant) Stop CPU / fan throttling on laptop?

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(Solved/irrelevant) Stop CPU / fan throttling on laptop?

Postby rich_roast on Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:50 pm

Scenario: Depending on ambient temperature and what I'm doing my laptop's fan will get stuck in a cycle between breathe-slowly-and-be-quiet and omg-too-hot-crank-it-up-a-notch.

The problem is this: on this old Advent 7039 (soldier that it is), whatever controls the fan / cpu throttling seems to somewhat buggy (this affected the system on Windows, too, causing system freezes, which were infinitely worse than the current problem).

Whilst not crashing the machine on Linux, changing fan speed will reproducibly cause a temporary "pause", and on occasion (e.g.) cause pulseaudio to fail, when playing a game like Blood Frontier, which in turn has the surprising effect of causing the game not to quit properly, leaving it on the screen and forcing me to kill X with the salute, which in turn restarts without dri, which forces (me, anyway) to reboot to get that back.

Or, as another example (not consistent but reproducible), if a key is held down at the time of the fan speed throttle change, that key will become locked until pushed again. Possibly also things beyond these which I just haven't noticed yet.

The irritation is that, if the machine is consistently warm enough to cause the fan to cycle at its high mode, or consistently cool enough such that it never has to switch between modes, no crashes are ever produced. It is a soldier.

So the question is this: is there a way of disabling the throttling behaviour and forcing the machine to have the fan spin at its highest setting by default? I really don't care how much noise it makes, let her rip (and I am all for keeping it cool).

Either way I shall probably invest in one of those cooling pads for laptops (big fan that you put under it, basically), because I'm a horrible sinner (I smoke at the computer) and no doubt it needs a little help (note, though, that the bugginess of the throttling has always been an issue since years back, I was warned about it when I acquired it).

It's not a big deal as it really only affects those times when I fancy playing video games, while the pauses are an irritation at other times they don't cause anything like the hassle they did when I was running Windows. I just wondered if anyone had any insight into controlling the hardware at this level.
Last edited by rich_roast on Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stop CPU / fan throttling on laptop?

Postby richyrich on Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:23 pm

Hey rich_roast, . . . ummm . . what flavour of Mint ?
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Re: Stop CPU / fan throttling on laptop?

Postby rich_roast on Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:33 am

richyrich wrote:Hey rich_roast, . . . ummm . . what flavour of Mint ?


Gloria standard, I have cairo-dock running in OGL mode on top but otherwise its pretty unmodified. Cheers.

Code: Select all
$ inxi -F
System:    Host my-laptop Kernel 2.6.31-14-generic i686 (32 bit) Distro Linux Mint 8 Helena - Main Edition
CPU:       Single core AMD Athlon 64 3000+ (UP) cache 1024 KB flags (sse2 nx lm) bmips 3590.47 clocked at 1800.00 MHz
Graphics:  Card ATI RV350 [Mobility Radeon 9600 M10] X.Org 1.6.4 Res: 1024x768@60.0hz
           GLX Renderer Mesa DRI R300 (RV350 4E50) 20090101 AGP 8x x86/MMX+/3DNow!+/SSE2 TCL GLX Version 1.5 Mesa 7.6 Direct Rendering Yes
Audio:     Card VIA VT8233/A/8235/8237 AC97 Audio Controller driver VIA 82xx Audio at port 1400
           Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Version 1.0.20
Network:   Card-1 Intersil ISL3890 [Prism GT/Prism Duette]/ISL3886 [Prism Javelin/Prism Xbow] driver p54pci
           Card-2 Broadcom BCM4401 100Base-T driver b44 v: 2.0
Disks:     HDD Total Size: 40.0GB (35.1% used) 1: /dev/sda IC25N040ATMR04-0 40.0GB
Partition: ID:/ size: 7.9G used: 5.3G (70%) fs: ext4 ID:/home size: 28G used: 7.9G (31%) fs: ext4
           ID:swap-1 size: 1.40GB used: 0.00GB (0%) fs: swap
Info:      Processes 150 Uptime 38 min Memory 490.0/748.8MB Client Shell inxi 1.2.6
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Re: Stop CPU / fan throttling on laptop?

Postby richyrich on Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:51 am

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Re: Stop CPU / fan throttling on laptop?

Postby rich_roast on Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:08 pm

Yes, this was the kind of start I was looking for; I'd heard of lmsensors but not had much luck with it on a previous box; I'll give it another go using your guide when I have time (read, after the next crash I get :wink: ). Thanks for the link and the guide! :) I'll report back here with success/failure.
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Re: Stop CPU / fan throttling on laptop?

Postby rich_roast on Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:03 pm

Sorry for the double-post, but it's been a while so I thought I'd update this way rather than edit my last one.

Sadly, whoever designed this old machine seemed to think that pwm was unnecessary:

[code]/usr/sbin/pwmconfig: There are no pwm-capable sensor modules installed[/pwm]

Crashes seem to be less frequent now, for whatever reason, but I'm still investigating. If anyone has any insight into how I might better diagnose and eliminate whatever the cause is, I'm open to suggestions. Cheers.

Update: I just now suffered another crash. A css file I was working on at the time, the product of about three weeks of learning and work, was toasted - it's an empty file now. While I should be able to restore it from memory fairly quickly, this is still extremely frustrating. I implore anyone who might know how to debug these random freezes to help me. Thanks.
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Re: Stop CPU / fan throttling on laptop?

Postby olle on Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:43 pm

Laptops are real vacuum cleaners ... have you emptied the dust bag ? :D

During the years all the dust gets into the narrow slots of the heatsink.

Use pressure air can and give it a blow ! Or get it to a repair shop for cleaning.
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Re: Stop CPU / fan throttling on laptop?

Postby rich_roast on Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:03 pm

Thanks for the tip; I did in fact open her up and replaced the thermal grease (admittedly this needed doing), and cleaned out the vents a couple of weeks ago. However, I've checked sensors now that I have lm-sensors installed and I'm seeing uncomfortable core temperatures: near 70C. I'm going to have another look. If I end up needing to invest in an external fan to place the laptop on I will. Thanks again for the advice.

[update] And we're done. One thing I'd obviously forgotten to do was blow out the actual heatsink; I'd only cleared the grill on the laptop cover. Little globules of dust came out through the fan. I'm praying that this will have helped. I've checked the sensors now; temperature hits 65 at high load (burn test launching three youtube videos at once with my usual suite of apps open), after ten minutes, then stays there. That's still a bit warm for my liking, but the fan never went to its higher speed, so on that basis we'll see. Thanks again for the advice - I'll be a bit peeved if I find out all of this was caused by some dirt in the heatsink but very grateful nonetheless.

[edit:] On an unrelated note, I've just noticed something about that css that I was working on that, had I not lost the original and started again, I would've missed. Found out I can avoid absolutely positioning most of my divs, to be precise. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise (happy again :) )

[update:] While running cool, without the fan changing speeds, I'm now getting (sigh) hard freezes. Am opening a new a thread, marking this one "solved"
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