CPU heat production

My friend, says that there are
two strategies for limiting the
heat production by a CPU. One
he loosely calls "duty cycle",
the other he calls "throttling".
"Duty cycle", he claims, limits
heat production by turning the
CPU on or off depending on
when instructions are or are
not available to be executed.
"Throttling", he says is a CPU
protection strategy depending
on a temperature sensor on the
CPU chip. I know about
"throttling" and agree with him.
But, I thought digital things
just draw more power when more
bits go through them. Never
heard of "duty cycle". What's
3 answers Last reply
More about heat production
  1. I'm not sure that "duty cycle" is the right word in this context. The most common way CPU's save power is by reducing clock speed and voltage when they are not under load. (Intel Speedstep, AMD Cool n Quiet). This of course means less current and less heat. Intel's latest CPU's (Nehalem and later) also have a improved capability to cut off current to cores that are not in use, for example when running an single-thread application on a quad-core CPU.
  2. Thanks for the quick reply Herr_Koos,
    Is it OK to think of "power saving" as
    the same as "throttling" then? Only
    "power saving" uses the load value
    to set clock and volts, whereas
    "throttling" uses temperature to set
    clock and volts? Am I wrong to think
    that digital circuits just draw more
    power when passing more bits?
    Or is it this "power saving" strategy
    that just makes it look like more
    bits produce more heat? See
    my dilemma? Does "throttling" have
    Intel and AMD names?
  3. Based on how you describe it, I think the "throttling" you refer to is a built-in safety mechanism that kicks in when the CPU exceeds a certain temperature, to prevent damage from overheating.
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