The Importance Of Thermald On Linux For Modern Intel Tiger Lake Laptops

Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 19 July 2021. Page 1 of 3. 24 Comments

Most Linux distributions including the likes of Ubuntu and Fedora have been shipping Intel's Thermald daemon the past few years as it's important to achieving good thermal/power behavior on modern Intel SoCs. For those curious about its impact, here are some benchmarks carried out with Intel Thermald or not when using an Intel Core i7 1185G7 Tiger Lake notebook.

Thermald is Intel's Thermal Daemon in user-space for interacting with their multiple thermal/power kernel drivers for proactively controlling thermal behavior using P-States, power clamping, and more. Thermal Daemon is developed in the open on GitHub and is specific to Intel processors. It's relatively safe to assume the major Linux distributions are shipping it by default and automatically used on supported Intel systems while on some of the more DIY/niche distributions it is worth verifying its presence if you are using an Intel notebook.

For the focus of today's benchmarking it's looking at the Ubuntu Linux performance with Thermald as shipped by default on the distribution and then again after disabling/removing it from the system. Thermald does allow for some tuning and DPTF extracting, etc. This article isn't one on Thermald tuning but looking strictly at the out-of-the-box/default impact of this Intel Thermal Daemon compared to when it's not present.

The Dell XPS 13 9310 with Core i7 1185G7 Tiger Lake processor was used for testing with the latest system BIOS and other updates as of testing. Ubuntu 21.04 was running on this Tiger Lake notebook while switching to the latest Linux 5.13 stable kernel. Thermald 2.4.3 is shipped by Ubuntu 21.04.

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