iambillbil Calls Out Intel’s Z37xx CPUs

Hoo boy.

Thermal throttling is the dark secret of the newest-generation of CPUs.

When the temperature of the chip hits a set point, its speed is automatically reduced. So a CPU that its maker brags is 2GHz can throttle back to 1.5GHz — or even less — once it gets hot.

This was already revealed with the Tegra K1 in the Xiaomi MiPad.

Now iambillbil is revealing it in the Intel Z37xx series of CPUs being used by Chinese tablet makers (and others).

In a post at the IMP3Net forum, he names four CPUs and illustrates the impact of thermal throttling [Google Translate].

He writes:

Use of a machine 3740D chips, maximum pressure can be below the core temperature of the heater to about 100 degrees, can tolerate 30 minutes, and then a sustained performance decreases until the heat balance and performance.

Use of a machine 3735D chips, maximum pressure can be below the core temperature of the heater to about 100 degrees, can tolerate 10 minutes later, and then a sustained performance decreases until the heat balance and performance.

3735F chip using a machine, can be at the highest pressure below the core temperature of the heating to about 80 degrees, can tolerate one minute later, and then a sustained performance is reduced until the heat balance and performance.

Z3740D: It can sustain its speed for thirty minutes under maximum temperature, then it throttles.

Z3735D: It can sustain its speed for ten minutes under maximum temperature, then it throttles.

Z3735F: It can sustain its speed for one minute under maximum temperature, then it throttles.

As for the 3736F, he’s unsure but surmises it has an even lower maximum temperature and an even lesser tolerance for it.

Our portable digital technology is facing two constraints that have yet to be surmounted:

1) Heat generation that degrades maximum performance.

2) Almost no progress in battery technology to prolong use.

We also have CPU makers banging up against the wall of physical and quantum effects as they continue to shrink circuitry to the nanoscale level. That’s actually a third constraint that could place another ceiling on top of the other two. It’s hardly ever mentioned because so far they’ve managed to continue to shrink the width of electron pathways. But soon they won’t be able to go further without some kind of near-miraculous breakthrough in materials or computing design.

In the meantime, we need to develop a new set of benchmarks to ascertain what the true amount of computing power we’re getting when we buy a device. It’s clear that the days of AnTuTu and other benchmarks are coming to the end of the road. This is why it’s been only in the past year — ironically, with the entry of Intel into tablets — that CPUs are suddenly described as having a “peak frequency” rather than a sustained maximum frequency.

And lest iambillbil has given the wrong impression, these are issues that affect both the Rockchip 3288 and the Allwinner A80 — as well as other new chips. iambillbil is just blowing the whistle on Intel with information that was never before considered.

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13 Comments

Filed under Android, Other Hardware, Windows Tablets

13 responses to “iambillbil Calls Out Intel’s Z37xx CPUs

    • highwind

      Jeah, “nice find” on a ~10 year old topic/technology…
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_frequency_scaling
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpeedStep
      Really, it is there since Pentium 4… every single computer, notebook, smartphone or tablet has it, no if it has an Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, Mediatek or whatever Processor!
      This is neither new nor spectacular…

      Also, whats up with everybody making a hassle of clock frequency?
      There is absolutey NO direct correlation between clock frequency and computing power… It is like saying a 1000bhp tank should drive faster than a 400bhp Porsche

      • It didn’t become an issue with those other device because they don’t have the portability of tablets and phones. Plus, few people paid attention to the issue back then. Today everyone is obsessed with measuring performance with AnTuTu and other benchmarks — and companies market based on that, so it matters more today than back then.

  1. yeahman45

    what’s the issue? if there’s no thermal throttling, the internals would melt!! I prefer reduced performance than melting parts tbh…

    • Truth in labeling. Calling a 2GHz CPU a 2GHz CPU isn’t exactly full disclosure. We had to pull teeth to find out about “peak frequency” and what that meant. Typical frequency should be advertised, not peak or a maximum that craps out after just one minute because the CPU reaches its thermal limit.

      • yeahman45

        for casual users it does not make a difference .. that’s why they won’t advertise it.. as it will be of no use for them.. the majority are casual users who just think bigger numbers are better…. everyone overbid their products… I don’t know a product/manufacturer which advertises it’s average potential instead of its maximum potential… it’s normal.. I cannot blame them. It’s normal.. we are humans

    • Don

      I think the real issue is the Z37X series is listed as thermal protection is around 105c which is roughly 194f yet I am seeing tablets with these chips throttling at a solid 102f(38c) a cool 92 degree difference. Which is basically 20-30 minutes on battery with a browser open and the unit only runs at 500Mhz “only” till you pull the AC cord out and stop charging and reduce the heat that way.

  2. HarHar! My x89hd doesn’t throttle down. Runs like a boss(sweaty one but yeah).

    • Maybe that’s why it has heat issues.

      • Robert

        It’s not a maybe, it’s certain. My Lenovo TPT2 had a 2600 something previous generation of atom, and so did all the other samsung asus acer w/e tablets. The lenovo one was the only one that didn’t get warm, it was also the only one that stuttered like crazy when playing MKV videos, later I figured out it had throttling hardcoded into it’s bios by lenovo. Le sigh.

      • Robert

        What I’m saying is, that this is a limitation of the hardware, and it comes with trade offs.
        Or maybe one these chinese companies could go where no OEM has gone before and include a bios option to enable/disable throttling. Generally this would only be able if they release an unofficial downloadable bios with it. because letting consumers mess with that would cause them a lot of complaints.

      • yeahman45

        yup probably… Even my galaxy s5 heats a lot and there’s thermal throttling also.. I just underclock it for less heat; no visible performance loss

  3. Pingback: Semiconductor Engineering .:. Getting The Right Return On Invested Power Consumption

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