Published on 06-09-11 19:41
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Modern processors, be they of CPU, GPU, APU or SoC flavour, employ very sophisticated power management techniques in order to better leverage the full potential of their respective functional units in combination with the applied thermal solution. What sounds quite basic is indeed a multi-dimensional topic and can easily mess with any performance analysis that is not taking into account the specifics in each processor. In this article I am giving an outline what contributes to the power management in modern processors.
A while ago - in IT-time quite an eternity - processors had a certain clock speed which they maintained during all operations. They had a fixed TDP that defined the necessary cooling solutions' capabilities to the fraction of a watt. Of course, power was quite low compared to more recent devices in the desktop space. Mobile devices, being much more dependant on a low power consumption, employed simple techniques like a reduced state for clock speed and core voltage as early as the turn of the millenium. With more recent devices, power has become a much more important issue in more than one respect - even in the desktop space.