February 8, 2018 // 11:05 a.m.
Laptop-centric Sony spin-off Vaio Corporation has announced what it claims is the answer to thermal throttling issues: a cooling and power system it calls Vaio TruePerformance.
The current trend for ultra-thin laptops has not been playing nicely with the opposing trend for increasingly powerful multi-core processors. The result, Vaio claims, is a world in which high-performance processors are being hobbled by slim laptop designs which fail to deal with the heat generated - resulting in thermal throttling, an automated system designed to protect the processor from heat-related damage by reducing its power draw and subsequent performance.
'When a CPU executes instructions it generates a lot of heat. This heat can accumulate inside the PC and measurably slow down performance if not addressed,' explains PC design department leader Eguchi Shuji in Vaio's promotional interview. 'Unlike large desktop PCs, notebooks have spatial restrictions around the mechanisms used to dissipate heat. This made us rethink the methods and technology in use to prevent overheating.'
'Total balance is essential for efficient thermal design in a notebook PC. On a desktop PC you can gauge the CPU temperature visually, and even increase speed by replacing the lubricant [sic] separating the CPU and heatsink with one with a lower thermal resistance. However, on a notebook PC, there are multiple places where processing can bottleneck and generate heat, so it’s key to identify those first,' adds mechanical designer Kimitaki Hisatomi, who developed the design Vaio is calling TruePerformance. 'You also want a space-saving mechanism since a more robust one will affect the notebook’s weight and design. We conducted over 100 heat elimination tests before creating prototypes so that we can identify the issues and resolve them in detail. And not to put too fine of a point on it, but Vaio is confident in our technology and expertise at creating thin notebook PCs. As design project leader Eguchi Shuji previously mentioned, we take pride in our ability to achieve maximum performance of the CPU in a conventional model.'
TruePerformance, Vaio explains, is a two-pronged approach: An increase to the CPU power limit discourages throttling and increases the minimum actively-computing performance level to which the system will clock, while an improved cooling system sheds the excess heat more efficiently than previous designs. Those who were hoping that TruePerformance means an end to throttling altogether, though, may be disappointed by the reality: Vaio's internal testing shows that a system designed with TruePerformance can run at maximum performance for longer and sustain a higher performance level long-term, but it still throttles substantially below the processor's maximum performance rate under sustained load.
The real-world impact, though, is claimed to be noticeable: Vaio's internal testing suggests that a laptop designed around a Core i5-8250U processor with TruePerformance can outperform a reference Core i7-8550U at the Maxon Cinebench benchmark, while applying it to the Core i7-8550U sees the result boosted by 13 percent over the reference design.
The first TruePerformance laptops will be the 8th Generation Vaio S family, the company has confirmed, with US pricing starting at $1,199 (around £863 excluding taxes).