Red Hat Developers Eyeing CPU Thermal Management Improvements For Fedora 32

Written by Michael Larabel in Fedora on 15 October 2019 at 04:50 AM EDT. 8 Comments
Several Red Hat developers are looking at improving the CPU thermal management capabilities for Fedora Workstation 32 and in turn possibly helping Intel CPUs reach better performance.

The change being sought for Fedora Workstation 32 would be shipping Intel's thermal daemon (thermald) by default with Fedora 32 and with that carrying various hardware specific configuration data for helping CPUs reach their optimal thermal/power limits. Intel's open-source thermal daemon can already be installed on most Linux distributions as a separate package but isn't normally shipped by default. With Fedora Workstation 32 it could be shipped by default for its goal of trying to keep CPUs operating in the correct temperature envelop and to reach maximum performance.

But in order for thermald to be effectively used, it relies upon hardware-specific configuration data. On a given system the data can be obtained via Intel's dptfxtract utility, but that isn't in Fedora proper and only RPM Fusion due to licensing issues. The dptfxtract code extracts tables for the Intel Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework (DPTF) and makes it usable by thermald. That extraction code is public on GitHub but under a binary license by Intel, making it off-limits for packaging on Fedora in its current form.

So for thermald to be useful, unless Intel were to re-license dptfxtract, they would be needing to ship configuration data on popular CPUs/platforms so thermald can behave accordingly. Thermald is of particular benefit for Intel mobile CPUs.

It's an interesting feature proposal that still needs a stamp of approval from the Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee. The matter was to be taken up at this week's FESCo meeting but they failed to reach a quorum and thus was punted off for another week.

There are concerns raised over this feature over the configuration file handling and dptfxtract not being within Fedora itself. Without appropriate configuration data, there is also a possible risk of performance loss.

We'll see how this plays out, but with Fedora 31 not even out the door yet, there still is plenty of time for this feature to get worked out in time for next spring's Fedora 32 release.
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