CPU performance scaling enables the operating system to scale the CPU frequency up or down in order to save power or improve performance. Scaling can be done automatically in response to system load, adjust itself in response to ACPI events, or be manually changed by user space programs.
The Linux kernel offers CPU performance scaling via the CPUFreq subsystem, which defines two layers of abstraction:
- Scaling governors implement the algorithms to compute the desired CPU frequency, potentially based off of the system's needs.
- Scaling drivers interact with the CPU directly, enacting the desired frequencies that the current governor is requesting.
A default scaling driver and governor are selected automatically, but userspace tools like cpupower, acpid, Laptop Mode Tools, or GUI tools provided for your desktop environment, may still be used for advanced configuration.
Linux daemon[dead link 2023-09-16 ⓘ] used to prevent the overheating of Intel CPUs. This daemon proactively controls thermal parameters using P-states, T-states, and the Intel power clamp driver. thermald can also be used for older Intel CPUs. If the latest drivers are not available, then the daemon will revert to x86 model specific registers and the Linux "cpufreq subsystem" to control system cooling.is a
By default, it monitors CPU temperature using available CPU digital temperature sensors and maintains CPU temperature under control, before hardware takes aggressive correction action. If there is a skin temperature sensor in thermal sysfs, then it tries to keep skin temperature under 45C.
is an i7 (and now i3, i5, i7, i9) CPU reporting tool for Linux. It can be launched from a Terminal with the command
i7z or as GUI with
can display the frequency, power consumption, idle status and other statistics of the modern Intel and AMD CPUs.
systemd service to change the governor at boot.is a set of userspace utilities designed to assist with CPU frequency scaling. The package is not required to use scaling, but is highly recommended because it provides useful command-line utilities and a
The configuration file for cpupower is located in
/etc/default/cpupower. This configuration file is read by a bash script in
/usr/lib/systemd/scripts/cpupower which is activated by systemd with
cpupower.service. You may want to enable
cpupower.service to start at boot.
GTK and is meant to provide the same options as cpupower. cpupower-gui can change the maximum/minimum CPU frequency and governor for each core. The application handles privilege granting through polkit and allows any logged-in user in the
wheel user group to change the frequency and governor.
GNOME shell extension that can alter minimum/maximum CPU frequencies and enable/disable frequency boosting.AUR is a
AUR is an automatic CPU speed and power optimizer for Linux based on active monitoring of laptop's battery state, CPU usage, CPU temperature and system load.
The powerprofilesctl command-line tool from
power-profiles-daemon service. GNOME and KDE also provide graphical interfaces for profile switching; see the following:
See the project's README for more information on usage, use cases, and comparisons with similar projects.
power-profiles-daemonservice by masking it (see also , ).
Scaling drivers implement the CPU-specific details of setting frequencies specified by the governor. Strictly speaking, the ACPI standard requires power-performance states (P-states) that start at P0, and becoming decreasingly performant. This functionality is called SpeedStep on Intel, and PowerNow! on AMD.
In practice, though, processors provide methods for specifying specific frequencies rather than being restricted to fixed P-states, which the scaling drivers handle.
- The native CPU module is loaded automatically.
intel_pstateCPU power scaling driver is used automatically for modern Intel CPUs instead of the other drivers below. This driver takes priority over other drivers and is built-in as opposed to being a module. This driver is currently automatically used for Sandy Bridge and newer CPUs.
intel_pstatemay run in "passive mode" via the
intel_cpufreqdriver for older CPUs. If you encounter a problem while using this driver, add
intel_pstate=disableto your kernel line in order to revert to using the
amd_pstateCPU power scaling driver is not active by default, but can be manually enabled when using a supported CPU (Zen 2 and newer) by adding
amd_pstate=guidedas a kernel parameter. Some motherboards might not enable the required setting in their firmware, leading to a
the _CPC object is not present in SBIOS or ACPI disablederror. Change Enable CPPC , usually found in the AMD CBS > NBIO > SMU > CPPC, from Auto to Enabled, or any similar settings in your UEFI. If they are not present, consult the vendor website for an update.
cpupower requires drivers to know the limits of the native CPU:
|intel_pstate||This driver implements a scaling driver with an internal governor for Intel Core (Sandy Bridge and newer) processors.|
|amd_pstate_epp||This "active" driver implements a scaling driver with an internal governor for AMD Ryzen (some Zen 2 and newer) processors.|
|acpi_cpufreq||CPUFreq driver which utilizes the ACPI Processor Performance States. This driver also supports the Intel Enhanced SpeedStep (previously supported by the deprecated speedstep-centrino module). For AMD Ryzen it only provides 3 frequency states.|
|intel_cpufreq||Starting with kernel 5.7, the intel_pstate scaling driver selects "passive mode" aka intel_cpufreq for CPUs that do not support hardware-managed P-states (HWP), i.e. Intel Core i 5th generation or older. This driver acts similar to the ACPI driver on Intel CPUs, except that it does not have the 16-pstate limit of ACPI.|
|amd_pstate||This driver exposes way more P-states than acpi_cpufreq does for AMD Ryzen, but does not take over governing.|
|cppc_cpufreq||CPUFreq driver based on ACPI CPPC system (see below). Common default on AArch64 systems. Works on modern x86 too, but the two vendor-specific options above are better.|
|speedstep_lib||CPUFreq driver for Intel SpeedStep-enabled processors (mostly Atoms and older Pentiums)|
|powernow_k8||CPUFreq driver for K8/K10 Athlon 64/Opteron/Phenom processors. Since Linux 3.7, 'acpi_cpufreq' will automatically be used for more modern AMD CPUs.|
|pcc_cpufreq||This driver supports Processor Clocking Control interface by Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft Corporation which is useful on some ProLiant servers.|
|p4_clockmod||CPUFreq driver for Intel Pentium 4/Xeon/Celeron processors which lowers the CPU temperature by skipping clocks. (You probably want to use |
To see a full list of available modules, run:
$ ls /usr/lib/modules/$(uname -r)/kernel/drivers/cpufreq/
Load the appropriate module (see Kernel modules for details). Once the appropriate cpufreq driver is loaded, detailed information about the CPU(s) can be displayed by running
$ cpupower frequency-info
Setting maximum and minimum frequencies
In some cases, it may be necessary to manually set maximum and minimum frequencies.
To set the maximum clock frequency (
clock_freq is a clock frequency with units: GHz, MHz):
# cpupower frequency-set -u clock_freq
To set the minimum clock frequency:
# cpupower frequency-set -d clock_freq
To set the CPU to run at a specified frequency:
# cpupower frequency-set -f clock_freq
- To adjust for only a single CPU core, append
- The governor, maximum and minimum frequencies can be set in
Alternatively, you can set the frequency manually:
# echo value | tee /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/cpufreq/scaling_max_freq
The available values can be found in
/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/cpufreq/scaling_available_frequencies or similar. 
Configuring frequency boosting
Some processors support raising their frequency above the normal maximum for a short burst of time, under appropriate thermal conditions. On Intel processors, this is called Turbo Boost, and on AMD processors this is called Turbo-Core.
Setting via sysfs (intel_pstate)
intel_pstate has a driver-specific interface for prohibiting the processor from entering turbo P-States:
# echo 1 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/intel_pstate/no_turbo
Setting via sysfs (other scaling drivers)
For scaling drivers other than
intel_pstate, if the driver supports boosting, the
/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpufreq/boost attribute will be present, and can be used to disable/enable boosting.
To disable boosting, run:
# echo 0 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpufreq/boost
To enable boosting, run:
# echo 1 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpufreq/boost
Setting via x86_energy_perf_policy
On Intel processors,can also be used to configure Turbo Boost:
# x86_energy_perf_policy --turbo-enable 0
amd_pstate has three operation modes: CPPC autonomous (active) mode, CPPC non-autonomous (passive) mode and CPPC guided autonomous (guided) mode. The active/passive/guided mode can be chosen by kernel parameter
- Active mode
activemode is implemented by
amd_pstate_epp(Energy Performance Preference) driver, available in kernel version 6.3 and later. In this mode, the
amd_pstate_eppdriver provides a hint to the hardware when software wants to bias the CPPC firmware towards performance (0x0) or power efficiency (0xff).
- Passive mode
passivemode is implemented by the
amd_pstatedriver. In this mode, the driver defines a desired performance based on the current workload, and specifically how much performance degradation can be tolerated without affecting quality of life.
- Guided mode
guidedmode is implemented by
amd_pstatedriver, available in kernel version 6.4 and later. In this mode, the
amd_pstatedriver requests minimum and maximum performance level and the platform autonomously selects a performance level in this range and appropriate to the current workload.
Scaling governors are power schemes determining the desired frequency for the CPU. Some request a constant frequency, others implement algorithms to dynamically adjust according to the system load. The governors included in the kernel are:
amd_pstatein active mode, which provide pseudo-governors in the form of
performance. See #Autonomous frequency scaling below.
|performance||Run the CPU at the maximum frequency, obtained from |
|powersave||Run the CPU at the minimum frequency, obtained from |
|userspace||Run the CPU at user specified frequencies, configurable via |
|ondemand||Scales the frequency dynamically according to current load. Jumps to the highest frequency and then possibly back off as the idle time increases.|
|conservative||Scales the frequency dynamically according to current load. Scales the frequency more gradually than ondemand.|
|schedutil||Scheduler-driven CPU frequency selection , .|
Depending on the scaling driver, one of these governors will be loaded by default:
schedutilsince Linux 4.9.5
- the internal
powersavegovernor for Intel CPUs using the
intel_pstatedriver (see the note above, it is equivalent to
To activate a particular governor, run:
# cpupower frequency-set -g governor
- To adjust for only a single CPU core, append
-c core_numberto the command above.
- Activating a governor requires that specific kernel module (named
cpufreq_governor) is loaded. As of kernel 3.4, these modules are loaded automatically.
Alternatively, you can activate a governor on every available CPU manually:
# echo governor | tee /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/cpufreq/scaling_governor
$ watch cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu[0-9]*/cpufreq/scaling_cur_freq
Tuning the ondemand governor
See the kernel documentation for details.
To set the threshold for stepping up to another frequency:
# echo -n percent > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpufreq/governor/up_threshold
To set the threshold for stepping down to another frequency:
# echo -n percent > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpufreq/governor/down_threshold
The sampling rate determines how frequently the governor checks to tune the CPU.
sampling_down_factor is a tunable that multiplies the sampling rate when the CPU is at its highest clock frequency, thereby delaying load evaluation and improving performance. Allowed values for
sampling_down_factor are 1 to 100000. This tunable has no effect on behavior at lower CPU frequencies/loads.
To read the value (default = 1), run:
$ cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpufreq/ondemand/sampling_down_factor
To set the value, run:
# echo -n value > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpufreq/ondemand/sampling_down_factor
Make changes permanent
Since Linux 5.9, it is possible to set the
cpufreq.default_governor kernel option. To set the desired scaling parameters at boot, configure the cpupower utility and enable its systemd service. Alternatively, systemd-tmpfiles or udev rules can be used.
Autonomous frequency scaling
Both Intel and AMD define a way to have the CPU decide its own speed based on (1) a performance range from the system and (2) a performance/power hint specifying the preference. The fully-autonomous mode is activated when:
amd-pstateis set to "active"—requires manual configuration and CPPC support in both the CPU and BIOS,
intel-pstateis set to "active" and hardware P-state (HWP) is available (i.e. Sandy Bridge and newer)—works out-of-the-box.
The most important feature of active governing is that only two governors appear available,
performance. They do not work at all like their normal counterpart, however: these levels are translated into an Energy Performance Preference hint for the CPU's internal governor. As a result, they both provide dynamic scaling, similar to the
ondemand generic governors respectively, differing mostly in latency. The
performance algorithm should give better power saving functionality than the old ondemand governor for Intel HWP.
Intel active, non-HWP
The intel-pstate driver has, confusingly, an "active" mode that works without the CPU's active decision. This mode turns on when kernel cmdline forces an "active" mode but HWP is unavailable or disabled. It will still only provide
performance, but the driver itself does the governing in a way similar to
performance (i.e. it stays at the maximum P-state). There is no real benefit to this mode compared to passive intel-pstate.
Setting the EPP
It is possible to select in-between hints with the sysfs interfaces available. The interface is identical between AMD and Intel, where the files
/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/power/energy_performance_preference describe the current preference and
/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/power/energy_performance_available_preferences providing a list of available preferences. One can also pass a number between 0 (favor performance) and 255 (favor power). A fallback implementation is provided for Intel CPUs without EPP, translating strings to EPB levels (described in next section) but failing on numbers.
supports configuration of EPP hints via the
--hwp-epp switch on Intel CPUs only. It works via direct access of machine-specific registers (MSRs) which differ between Intel and AMD. The program can also restrict the range of HWP frequencies using a range of frequency multipliers.
To enable hardware P-States with:
# x86_energy_perf_policy -H 1 # x86_energy_perf_policy -U 1
Collaborative processor performance control
The power consumption of modern CPUs is no longer simply dependent on the frequency or voltage setting, as there are modules that can be switched on as needed. Collaborative processor performance control (CPPC) is the P-state replacement provided by ACPI 5.0. Instead of defining a table of static frequency levels, the processor provides many abstract performance levels and the operating system selects from these levels. There are two advantages:
- There is no longer a limit of 16 P-state entries; a typical CPU provides hundreds of levels to choose from.
- The CPU can provide a higher frequency (e.g. boost) for a performance level when certain parts (e.g. vector FPU) is not used.
On the other hand, the flexible frequency breaks frequency-invariant utilization tracking, which is important for fast frequency changes by
schedutil. A number of vendor-specific methods have been used to make the frequency static under CPPC, with most successes coming from arm64.
cppc_cpufreq is the generic CPPC scaling driver.
amd_pstate also uses ACPI CPPC to manage the CPU frequency when the Zen 3 MSR is unavailable – this method, also called "shared memory", has higher latency than MSR.
Intel performance and energy bias hint
The Intel performance and energy bias hint (EPB) is an interface provided by Intel CPUs to allow for user space to specify the desired power-performance tradeoff, on a scale of 0 (highest performance) to 15 (highest energy savings). The EPB register is another layer of performance management functioning independently from frequency scaling. It influences how aggressive P-state and C-state selection will be, and informs internal model-specific decision making that affects energy consumption.
Common values and their aliases, as recognized by sysfs andare:
Setting via sysfs
The EPB can be set using a sysfs attribute:
# echo epb | tee /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/power/energy_perf_bias
Setting via x86_energy_perf_policy
# x86_energy_perf_policy --epb epb
Setting via cpupower
# cpupower set -b epb_value
Interaction with ACPI events
Users may configure scaling governors to switch automatically based on different ACPI events such as connecting the AC adapter or closing a laptop lid. A quick example is given below; however, it may be worth reading full article on acpid.
Events are defined in
/etc/acpi/handler.sh. If the package is installed, the file should already exist and be executable. For example, to change the scaling governor from
conservative when the AC adapter is disconnected and change it back if reconnected:
[...] ac_adapter) case "$2" in AC*) case "$4" in 00000000) echo "conservative" >/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor echo -n $minspeed >$setspeed #/etc/laptop-mode/laptop-mode start ;; 00000001) echo "performance" >/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor echo -n $maxspeed >$setspeed #/etc/laptop-mode/laptop-mode stop ;; esac ;; *) logger "ACPI action undefined: $2" ;; esac ;; [...]
BIOS frequency limitation
Some CPU/BIOS configurations may have difficulties to scale to the maximum frequency or scale to higher frequencies at all. This is most likely caused by BIOS events telling the OS to limit the frequency resulting in
/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/bios_limit set to a lower value.
Either you just made a specific Setting in the BIOS Setup Utility, (Frequency, Thermal Management, etc.) you can blame a buggy/outdated BIOS or the BIOS might have a serious reason for throttling the CPU on its own.
Reasons like that can be (assuming your machine's a notebook) that the battery is removed (or near death) so you are on AC-power only. In this case, a weak AC-source might not supply enough electricity to fulfill extreme peak demands by the overall system and as there is no battery to assist this could lead to data loss, data corruption or in worst case even hardware damage!
Not all BIOS'es limit the CPU-Frequency in this case, but, for example, most IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads do. Refer to thinkwiki for more thinkpad related info on this topic.
If you checked there is not just an odd BIOS setting and you know what you are doing, you can make the Kernel ignore these BIOS-limitations.
ignore_ppc=1 kernel module parameter for the
processor module. For trying this temporarily, change the value in
Some systems use another mechanism to limit the CPU frequency, e.g., when running without battery. See Lenovo ThinkPad T480#CPU stuck at minimum frequency for a way to manipulate the BD PROCHOT bit in Intel CPUs. It does not apply to the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 only. The bit also is what makes at least some Intel-based MacBooks run with minimum CPU frequency when no battery is connected.