An Intel representative contacting Phoronix on behalf of their Open-Source Technology Center explains:
The demand for high performance in increasingly thinner and smaller computing systems such as laptops, ultrabooks and tablets creates the need for more ways to manage and control system heat dissipation. Common techniques for heat dissipation include heat sinks, fans, and other forms of cooling devices, but, as system form factors shrink, it’s not efficient to just rely on traditional hardware, BIOS and OSPM methods to cool the system.This project has been in the works since last December and the first code drop is now available at Intel OTC's 01.org.
The Linux Thermal Daemon monitors and provides close loop control of CPU temperatures, particularly for small form factor, thermally sensitive and often fanless systems. When CPU temperatures exceed dynamically adjusted thresholds based on the maximum CPU temperature settings, the daemon proactively cools the CPU by controlling performance and thermal states. To control these states, it uses the latest cooling and P state drivers developed by Intel and submitted to the upstream Linux kernel. If these drivers are not available, then the daemon will revert to x86 model specific registers and the Linux “cpufreq subsystem” to control system cooling.
For those wanting more details on the Intel Linux Thermal Daemon, there's more within the project's documentation.