how do i disable the speedstep on my intel Macbook Pro ?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by adamjay, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. adamjay macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
    even at "best performance" the speedstep is still kicking in.

    i know this for a fact because when running Ableton Live 5 (universal binary), i run a benchmark test in it that we at the user forums use to compare performance of various mac and pc computers. When running the test on a 2x2ghz iMac Core Duo. it reports 29% CPU usage.

    on a 2x2ghz MacBook Pro it reports 40%.
    now, if i run xBench whilst running the ableton benchmark file, xBench kicks the cpu up enough to turn off the speedstep and Ableton Live runs at the 29% that it should. (dual 1.67ghz mac mini's run at 37%, still better performance than the MacBook with speedstep on)

    so yea, for us in the realtime professional audio community, this speedstep thing kinda blows. and so does the dumbing down of Energy Saver (i.e. we cannot turn it off.. there is no "highest" processor setting any longer)

    how oh how do i truley get my MacBook Pro to run at full processor speed.
    how can i turn off the stepping down of this Core Duo processor?

  2. neocell macrumors 65816


    May 23, 2005
    Great White North
    Someone else was inquiring about how to turn off one of the cores in the MBP. Apparently you need to install the X11 components from the system discs. Maybe if you do that you'll get the option for adjusting the power settings as well as the cores. I'll look for the thread to get more info...


    Sorry not X11 but the CHUD components, here's the thread that I read it in:
  3. adamjay thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
    thanks but that didnt do the trick.

    i got the option to disable in pref's. that pane is actually really cool, as is the "processor pallete" that is accessible via the menu bar icon for that pref.
    However, there were no options for adjusting or disabling the cpu frequency stepping on these intel core duo's (or any processor arc... for that matter)

    any other ideas?
  4. evilbert420 macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2002
    Yeah man Live 5 is fantastic! As soon as I can get Firebox and Mbox drivers for intelmac, I'll probably be moving to a MBP (from 1.5Ghz PBG4). I'm a soft synth/sampler junkie so I can't wait for a less hiccup-py dual-core system.

    On my PCs, I always use a utility to turn on/off speedstep (Notebook Hardware Control). I definitely notice clipping in my audio apps if I don't turn it off; the Speedstep function just doesn't respond as fast as it needs to. I wish Intel would put more development into it, but then again I notice the same thing with the "Automatic" setting on my PBG4.

    I'm hoping someone will find a way to tweak the setting via an OSX utility.
  5. adamjay thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
    i'm using the Metric Halo 2882+DSP.
    universal binary drivers came out a couple weeks ago.
    the real cool part is the DSP plug-ins with the Metric Halo are good to go on Intel, so aside from just a few 3rd party plug-ins (that will be ready for UB by Q3)... i'm good to go. Pretty quick transition. :)

    FYI, Live 5 on my MacBook is running TWICE AS FAST as my old G4 1.5ghz PB. (well, when the CPU is at full blast at least)
    But the wild part is the audio engine is only utilizing one core. So when Live 6 drops in Q3 '06 with a multithreaded audio engine. I expect a total of 3x-3.5x performance boost over my G4 1.5ghz.

    I'm so glad Jobs went with Intel. And so is Ableton.
  6. MRU macrumors demi-god


    Aug 23, 2005
    Doesnt the power settings do this? Go into system preferences, energy saver and settings for poweradapter, drop down to better performance. Then in the options tab (next to sleep) under processor perfomance - make sure that's at highest...

    This is on a powerbook, so if they've changed it on the mac book I havent a clue :)
  7. Bunsen Burner macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2006

    Only adjusts sleep parameters, i.e., hard drive, panel, computer, wake for ethernet, etc.

    Does not exist on Intel Macs as was stated in the original post. Who said this in bold capitalization?


  8. adamjay thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
    also. i think this new energy saver with less cpu performance options exists on the final rev HiDef G4 Powerbooks.

    Ableton rented one from Apple for the NAMM show back in January. And when i was setting up my demonstrations for their booth on that machine, i noticed the same thing.

    They really need to bring that option back in the Energy Saver.
    i'm getting very close to diving into the EFI.
  9. Kingsly macrumors 68040


    I've been following this thread from the beginning and I have a few burning questions:
    What is speedstep?
    What does it do?
    Does it affect ProTools?
    Does it affect FCP?
    Thanks, now I can sleep at nights. :)
  10. mmmcheese macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2006
    It's possible that the chip does this all on its own with no OS intervention...if this is the case, it may be impossible to adjust this.
  11. adamjay thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
    it can be adjusted on windows computers with the same cpu's.
    there are various little apps on the windows side that can disable such things.
    and well - the BIOS on x86 windows motherboards will allow this.
    hence i'm contemplating going into the EFI (the macbook's version of a BIOS) if i must but that is a big undertaking for me... i'd rather wait for an easier solution. perhaps a terminal command if anyone has any ideas...

    Kingsly-- speedstep is the stepping technology that makes the intel processors "step" up and down in processing frequency.
    i don't get all my 2x2ghz until i'm using like 80% of my total CPU power. until then it runs at something more like 75% or less total capable cpu performance.

    so yes this does effect pro audio and video apps that need all the processing it can get, even at lower levels of processing intensity.
    its all about headroom. When i'm doing a mix and tracking a vocalist doing overdubs, i'd rather see my CPU @ 59% than 79% if i paid for a pair of 2ghz processor cores.
    I just want all the power i paid for.

    Apple really needs to re-enable the processor setting in Energy Saver.
  12. adamjay thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004
    from what i've learned of these Core Duos, they wont go into full speed unless BOTH cores are getting alot of work. and as you know Live being a non-multithreaded audio engine application (it is multi-threaded for video rendering and other caching though)... its very difficult to do that.

    when i fire up Xbench to force both cores to turn the speedstep OFF the performance gains are tremendous.
    i was just testing a Live .als file for a friend that was hitting 44% on my MacBook Pro 2ghz
    when i fired up Xbench to get the TRUE cpu% (triggering off the SpeedStep), it was 26-27%.

    thats a pretty damn big discrepency...
    i've tried all the cpu applets i can find on and to see if i can turn this speedstep off but no luck yet.
    it may require going into the EFI (macbook's version of a BIOS), waiting for an applette to adjust processor energy savings that we USED to have on portable macs, or lastly... waiting on Apple to fix this.

    I didn't pay for a pair of 1.2ghz processor cores, but thats all the performance i am getting.
  13. adamjay thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2004

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