November 14th, 2006



Fascinating. For many years I've been aware of the overclocking concept: boosting your computer's speed, to jazz it up for gaming. But this is the first time I've come across the inverse concept of "undervolting" -- carefully reducing your laptop's power draw to pull the minimum current that will still run stably, thereby reducing its temperature and improving battery life. There's a nice tutorial here on how to bring down the machine's current step by step until you find the minimum.

(The obvious question is, "So why don't they just ship the computer this way?". The claimed answer is basically that the manufacturers choose a single voltage that is relatively middle-of-the-road, safe for all samples of the chip. Tuning to get the optimal voltage for each specific chip takes a fair amount of extra effort, so they don't bother.)

Neat stuff. Given that I run a machine with a relatively wimpy battery (I went for weight over battery life), there's something to be said for trying this. Not to mention the general ecological benefit of not consuming unnecessary power...