2

Problem :

A few months ago, I got a new MSI gaming laptop (GP76 Leopard w/Intel Core i7-10870H and Nvidia RTX 3070).

However, since the very beginning, I've been experiencing a very annoying behaviour : the CPU goes crazy too often, hence the fans, and for no good reason.

Workaround :

I worked around this problem by simply disabling Intel Turbo Boost : echo 1 >/sys/devices/system/cpu/intel_pstate/no_turbo

Here are two log outputs of turbostat --Summary --show Busy%,Bzy_MHz,IRQ,PkgWatt,PkgTmp,RAMWatt,GFXWatt,CorWatt --interval 6, with Turbo Boost disabled/enabled on the same task that's not very demanding.

Turbo Boost disabled :

turbostat version 20.09.30 - Len Brown <lenb@kernel.org>
CPUID(0): GenuineIntel 0x16 CPUID levels; 0x80000008 xlevels; family:model:stepping 0x6:a5:2 (6:165:2)
CPUID(1): SSE3 MONITOR - EIST TM2 TSC MSR ACPI-TM HT TM
CPUID(6): APERF, TURBO, DTS, PTM, HWP, HWPnotify, HWPwindow, HWPepp, No-HWPpkg, EPB
cpu2: MSR_IA32_MISC_ENABLE: 0x00850089 (TCC EIST MWAIT PREFETCH TURBO)
CPUID(7): SGX
cpu2: MSR_IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL: 0x00020005 (Locked )
CPUID(0x15): eax_crystal: 2 ebx_tsc: 184 ecx_crystal_hz: 0
TSC: 2208 MHz (24000000 Hz * 184 / 2 / 1000000)
CPUID(0x16): base_mhz: 2200 max_mhz: 5000 bus_mhz: 100
cpu2: MSR_MISC_PWR_MGMT: 0x00401cc0 (ENable-EIST_Coordination DISable-EPB DISable-OOB)
RAPL: 5825 sec. Joule Counter Range, at 45 Watts
cpu2: MSR_PLATFORM_INFO: 0x8083bf1011600
8 * 100.0 = 800.0 MHz max efficiency frequency
22 * 100.0 = 2200.0 MHz base frequency
cpu2: MSR_IA32_POWER_CTL: 0x003c005f (C1E auto-promotion: ENabled)
cpu2: MSR_TURBO_RATIO_LIMIT: 0x292b2c2d2e2f3132
41 * 100.0 = 4100.0 MHz max turbo 8 active cores
43 * 100.0 = 4300.0 MHz max turbo 7 active cores
44 * 100.0 = 4400.0 MHz max turbo 6 active cores
45 * 100.0 = 4500.0 MHz max turbo 5 active cores
46 * 100.0 = 4600.0 MHz max turbo 4 active cores
47 * 100.0 = 4700.0 MHz max turbo 3 active cores
49 * 100.0 = 4900.0 MHz max turbo 2 active cores
50 * 100.0 = 5000.0 MHz max turbo 1 active cores
cpu2: MSR_CONFIG_TDP_NOMINAL: 0x00000016 (base_ratio=22)
cpu2: MSR_CONFIG_TDP_LEVEL_1: 0x00120118 (PKG_MIN_PWR_LVL1=0 PKG_MAX_PWR_LVL1=0 LVL1_RATIO=18 PKG_TDP_LVL1=280)
cpu2: MSR_CONFIG_TDP_LEVEL_2: 0x00000000 ()
cpu2: MSR_CONFIG_TDP_CONTROL: 0x00000000 ( lock=0)
cpu2: MSR_TURBO_ACTIVATION_RATIO: 0x00000015 (MAX_NON_TURBO_RATIO=21 lock=0)
cpu2: MSR_PKG_CST_CONFIG_CONTROL: 0x1e008008 (UNdemote-C3, UNdemote-C1, demote-C3, demote-C1, locked, pkg-cstate-limit=8 (unlimited))
/dev/cpu_dma_latency: 2000000000 usec (default)
current_driver: intel_idle
current_governor: menu
current_governor_ro: menu
cpu2: POLL: CPUIDLE CORE POLL IDLE
cpu2: C1ACPI: ACPI FFH MWAIT 0x0
cpu2: C2ACPI: ACPI FFH MWAIT 0x33
cpu2: C3ACPI: ACPI FFH MWAIT 0x60
cpu2: cpufreq driver: intel_pstate
cpu2: cpufreq governor: powersave
cpufreq intel_pstate no_turbo: 1
cpu2: MSR_MISC_FEATURE_CONTROL: 0x00000000 (L2-Prefetch L2-Prefetch-pair L1-Prefetch L1-IP-Prefetch)
cpu0: MSR_PM_ENABLE: 0x00000001 (HWP)
cpu0: MSR_HWP_CAPABILITIES: 0x01081632 (high 50 guar 22 eff 8 low 1)
cpu0: MSR_HWP_REQUEST: 0x80001608 (min 8 max 22 des 0 epp 0x80 window 0x0 pkg 0x0)
cpu0: MSR_HWP_INTERRUPT: 0x00000000 (Dis_Guaranteed_Perf_Change, Dis_Excursion_Min)
cpu0: MSR_HWP_STATUS: 0x00000000 (No-Guaranteed_Perf_Change, No-Excursion_Min)
cpu0: EPB: 6 (balanced)
cpu0: MSR_RAPL_POWER_UNIT: 0x000a0e03 (0.125000 Watts, 0.000061 Joules, 0.000977 sec.)
cpu0: MSR_PKG_POWER_INFO: 0x00000168 (45 W TDP, RAPL 0 - 0 W, 0.000000 sec.)
cpu0: MSR_PKG_POWER_LIMIT: 0x43864000df8640 (UNlocked)
cpu0: PKG Limit #1: ENabled (200.000000 Watts, 56.000000 sec, clamp ENabled)
cpu0: PKG Limit #2: ENabled (200.000000 Watts, 0.002441* sec, clamp ENabled)
cpu0: MSR_DRAM_POWER_LIMIT: 0x5400de00000000 (UNlocked)
cpu0: DRAM Limit: DISabled (0.000000 Watts, 0.000977 sec, clamp DISabled)
cpu0: MSR_PP0_POLICY: 0
cpu0: MSR_PP0_POWER_LIMIT: 0x00000000 (UNlocked)
cpu0: Cores Limit: DISabled (0.000000 Watts, 0.000977 sec, clamp DISabled)
cpu0: MSR_PP1_POLICY: 0
cpu0: MSR_PP1_POWER_LIMIT: 0x00000000 (UNlocked)
cpu0: GFX Limit: DISabled (0.000000 Watts, 0.000977 sec, clamp DISabled)
cpu0: MSR_IA32_TEMPERATURE_TARGET: 0x05640000 (100 C)
cpu0: MSR_IA32_PACKAGE_THERM_STATUS: 0x88380000 (44 C)
cpu0: MSR_IA32_PACKAGE_THERM_INTERRUPT: 0x00000003 (100 C, 100 C)
cpu2: MSR_PKGC3_IRTL: 0x0000884e (valid, 79872 ns)
cpu2: MSR_PKGC6_IRTL: 0x00008876 (valid, 120832 ns)
cpu2: MSR_PKGC7_IRTL: 0x00008894 (valid, 151552 ns)
cpu2: MSR_PKGC8_IRTL: 0x000088fa (valid, 256000 ns)
cpu2: MSR_PKGC9_IRTL: 0x0000894c (valid, 339968 ns)
cpu2: MSR_PKGC10_IRTL: 0x00008bf2 (valid, 1034240 ns)
Busy%   Bzy_MHz IRQ PkgTmp  PkgWatt CorWatt GFXWatt RAMWatt
3.50    2034    6940    44  6.56    1.70    0.00    0.76
3.55    1446    9321    45  4.96    1.08    0.00    0.90
4.60    1361    11377   45  5.07    1.29    0.00    1.02
6.91    2080    17822   50  7.85    3.26    0.00    0.85
6.84    2196    10866   50  9.36    3.72    0.00    0.85
7.01    2185    11353   50  8.50    3.79    0.00    0.84
7.27    2196    13078   50  8.80    3.96    0.00    0.84
7.36    2200    10385   49  10.00   4.12    0.00    0.84
7.27    2200    11124   49  7.43    4.17    0.00    0.84
7.24    2200    10872   49  7.37    4.11    0.00    0.84
7.27    2200    10866   50  7.34    4.08    0.00    0.84
7.25    2186    10891   50  7.21    3.95    0.00    0.84
7.29    2200    11188   50  7.27    4.01    0.00    0.84
7.24    2200    11702   49  7.30    4.03    0.00    0.84
7.28    2200    11692   50  7.35    4.08    0.00    0.84
7.26    2200    11515   50  7.31    4.05    0.00    0.84
7.26    2200    11103   50  7.32    4.05    0.00    0.84
7.35    2200    13125   50  7.38    4.12    0.00    0.84
7.62    2200    18003   50  7.56    4.29    0.00    0.85
7.15    2145    14333   47  7.13    3.85    0.00    0.86
1.64    1839    4533    45  6.88    0.68    0.00    0.76
1.45    1830    2615    46  7.60    0.58    0.00    0.74

WHEREAS BEFORE (Turbo Boost enabled) :

turbostat version 20.09.30 - Len Brown <lenb@kernel.org>
CPUID(0): GenuineIntel 0x16 CPUID levels; 0x80000008 xlevels; family:model:stepping 0x6:a5:2 (6:165:2)
CPUID(1): SSE3 MONITOR - EIST TM2 TSC MSR ACPI-TM HT TM
CPUID(6): APERF, TURBO, DTS, PTM, HWP, HWPnotify, HWPwindow, HWPepp, No-HWPpkg, EPB
cpu10: MSR_IA32_MISC_ENABLE: 0x00850089 (TCC EIST MWAIT PREFETCH TURBO)
CPUID(7): SGX
cpu10: MSR_IA32_FEATURE_CONTROL: 0x00020005 (Locked )
CPUID(0x15): eax_crystal: 2 ebx_tsc: 184 ecx_crystal_hz: 0
TSC: 2208 MHz (24000000 Hz * 184 / 2 / 1000000)
CPUID(0x16): base_mhz: 2200 max_mhz: 5000 bus_mhz: 100
cpu10: MSR_MISC_PWR_MGMT: 0x00401cc0 (ENable-EIST_Coordination DISable-EPB DISable-OOB)
RAPL: 5825 sec. Joule Counter Range, at 45 Watts
cpu10: MSR_PLATFORM_INFO: 0x8083bf1011600
8 * 100.0 = 800.0 MHz max efficiency frequency
22 * 100.0 = 2200.0 MHz base frequency
cpu10: MSR_IA32_POWER_CTL: 0x003c005f (C1E auto-promotion: ENabled)
cpu10: MSR_TURBO_RATIO_LIMIT: 0x292b2c2d2e2f3132
41 * 100.0 = 4100.0 MHz max turbo 8 active cores
43 * 100.0 = 4300.0 MHz max turbo 7 active cores
44 * 100.0 = 4400.0 MHz max turbo 6 active cores
45 * 100.0 = 4500.0 MHz max turbo 5 active cores
46 * 100.0 = 4600.0 MHz max turbo 4 active cores
47 * 100.0 = 4700.0 MHz max turbo 3 active cores
49 * 100.0 = 4900.0 MHz max turbo 2 active cores
50 * 100.0 = 5000.0 MHz max turbo 1 active cores
cpu10: MSR_CONFIG_TDP_NOMINAL: 0x00000016 (base_ratio=22)
cpu10: MSR_CONFIG_TDP_LEVEL_1: 0x00120118 (PKG_MIN_PWR_LVL1=0 PKG_MAX_PWR_LVL1=0 LVL1_RATIO=18 PKG_TDP_LVL1=280)
cpu10: MSR_CONFIG_TDP_LEVEL_2: 0x00000000 ()
cpu10: MSR_CONFIG_TDP_CONTROL: 0x00000000 ( lock=0)
cpu10: MSR_TURBO_ACTIVATION_RATIO: 0x00000015 (MAX_NON_TURBO_RATIO=21 lock=0)
cpu10: MSR_PKG_CST_CONFIG_CONTROL: 0x1e008008 (UNdemote-C3, UNdemote-C1, demote-C3, demote-C1, locked, pkg-cstate-limit=8 (unlimited))
/dev/cpu_dma_latency: 2000000000 usec (default)
current_driver: intel_idle
current_governor: menu
current_governor_ro: menu
cpu10: POLL: CPUIDLE CORE POLL IDLE
cpu10: C1ACPI: ACPI FFH MWAIT 0x0
cpu10: C2ACPI: ACPI FFH MWAIT 0x33
cpu10: C3ACPI: ACPI FFH MWAIT 0x60
cpu10: cpufreq driver: intel_pstate
cpu10: cpufreq governor: powersave
cpufreq intel_pstate no_turbo: 0
cpu10: MSR_MISC_FEATURE_CONTROL: 0x00000000 (L2-Prefetch L2-Prefetch-pair L1-Prefetch L1-IP-Prefetch)
cpu0: MSR_PM_ENABLE: 0x00000001 (HWP)
cpu0: MSR_HWP_CAPABILITIES: 0x01081632 (high 50 guar 22 eff 8 low 1)
cpu0: MSR_HWP_REQUEST: 0x80003208 (min 8 max 50 des 0 epp 0x80 window 0x0 pkg 0x0)
cpu0: MSR_HWP_INTERRUPT: 0x00000000 (Dis_Guaranteed_Perf_Change, Dis_Excursion_Min)
cpu0: MSR_HWP_STATUS: 0x00000000 (No-Guaranteed_Perf_Change, No-Excursion_Min)
cpu0: EPB: 6 (balanced)
cpu0: MSR_RAPL_POWER_UNIT: 0x000a0e03 (0.125000 Watts, 0.000061 Joules, 0.000977 sec.)
cpu0: MSR_PKG_POWER_INFO: 0x00000168 (45 W TDP, RAPL 0 - 0 W, 0.000000 sec.)
cpu0: MSR_PKG_POWER_LIMIT: 0x43864000df8640 (UNlocked)
cpu0: PKG Limit #1: ENabled (200.000000 Watts, 56.000000 sec, clamp ENabled)
cpu0: PKG Limit #2: ENabled (200.000000 Watts, 0.002441* sec, clamp ENabled)
cpu0: MSR_DRAM_POWER_LIMIT: 0x5400de00000000 (UNlocked)
cpu0: DRAM Limit: DISabled (0.000000 Watts, 0.000977 sec, clamp DISabled)
cpu0: MSR_PP0_POLICY: 0
cpu0: MSR_PP0_POWER_LIMIT: 0x00000000 (UNlocked)
cpu0: Cores Limit: DISabled (0.000000 Watts, 0.000977 sec, clamp DISabled)
cpu0: MSR_PP1_POLICY: 0
cpu0: MSR_PP1_POWER_LIMIT: 0x00000000 (UNlocked)
cpu0: GFX Limit: DISabled (0.000000 Watts, 0.000977 sec, clamp DISabled)
cpu0: MSR_IA32_TEMPERATURE_TARGET: 0x05640000 (100 C)
cpu0: MSR_IA32_PACKAGE_THERM_STATUS: 0x88370000 (45 C)
cpu0: MSR_IA32_PACKAGE_THERM_INTERRUPT: 0x00000003 (100 C, 100 C)
cpu10: MSR_PKGC3_IRTL: 0x0000884e (valid, 79872 ns)
cpu10: MSR_PKGC6_IRTL: 0x00008876 (valid, 120832 ns)
cpu10: MSR_PKGC7_IRTL: 0x00008894 (valid, 151552 ns)
cpu10: MSR_PKGC8_IRTL: 0x000088fa (valid, 256000 ns)
cpu10: MSR_PKGC9_IRTL: 0x0000894c (valid, 339968 ns)
cpu10: MSR_PKGC10_IRTL: 0x00008bf2 (valid, 1034240 ns)
Busy%   Bzy_MHz IRQ PkgTmp  PkgWatt CorWatt GFXWatt RAMWatt
1.88    3641    5797    43  10.07   4.34    0.00    0.75
2.61    1697    7673    42  6.49    1.79    0.00    0.88
4.35    2100    15882   68  8.27    4.20    0.00    0.97
5.19    2608    15240   42  11.41   7.50    0.00    0.90
5.45    3552    11849   66  17.01   11.81   0.00    0.88
6.21    4349    11560   77  21.86   17.17   0.00    0.84
7.14    4489    13990   79  26.32   21.18   0.00    0.89
6.48    4621    11100   79  25.58   20.96   0.00    0.84
6.49    4684    10883   81  26.02   21.41   0.00    0.84
6.47    4609    10874   81  25.73   20.99   0.00    0.84
6.45    4388    11430   78  24.04   19.43   0.00    0.85
6.47    4551    11377   76  25.07   20.44   0.00    0.84
6.50    4668    10891   80  25.98   21.25   0.00    0.84
6.43    4433    11053   80  24.43   19.80   0.00    0.85
6.47    4588    11079   79  25.59   20.86   0.00    0.84
6.52    4688    10827   82  26.35   21.61   0.00    0.84
6.52    4689    11453   82  26.27   21.64   0.00    0.84
6.72    4684    18989   76  27.30   22.66   0.00    0.84
6.53    4457    15215   82  26.02   21.28   0.00    0.85
2.97    3515    9289    46  12.27   6.32    0.00    0.82
0.32    942 1432    44  7.17    0.18    0.00    0.73
1.73    3185    2361    45  10.26   3.19    0.00    0.75

This worked well, my CPU is very calm, but while playing some games, I now encounter slowdowns/FPS drops even in situations where everything was fine on my old laptop from 2014. That of course, is unacceptable.

My research until now :

I had this very same problem on Windows too when it was installed anew, and installing Dragon Center (a Windows-only, MSI-specific utility) solved the problem. After digging some information, it seems it's related to something MSI calls MSI shift technology which I guess is closely related to Intel SpeedStep.

After digging even more, it seems it's managed via the laptop's embedded controller, by writing at EC memory address 0xD2 this way :

  • Bit 7 should always be 1.
  • Bit 6 should be 1 if MSI shift is enabled, 0 otherwise.
  • Bits 5, 4, 3 are unused (set to zero).
  • Bits 2, 1, 0 should be set depending on performance level required, according to the following :
    • 010 : Economy (low)
    • 001 : Green (medium)
    • 000 : Comfort (high)
    • 100 : Sport (Turbo)
    • 011 : User-defined

So I wrote a module doing exactly that, but it doesn't seem to change a thing. I'm obviously missing something, but I must be near. Here's a simple module that's supposed to set CPU performance to battery mode, but as I said it doesn't work (while I'm not an experienced kernel-mode coder by far, I don't think there are big mistakes here since I use similar code to successfully enable/disable display overdrive) :

#include <linux/kernel.h>
#include <linux/acpi.h>
#include <linux/module.h>

MODULE_AUTHOR("NovHak <dontspamme@at.all>");
MODULE_DESCRIPTION("MSI GP76 ACPI EC fiddler (battery)");
MODULE_LICENSE("GPL");

static int __init acpi_msiecbt_init(void)
{
  u8 byte_read;
  int err = 0;

  err = ec_read(0xd2, &byte_read);
  if (err)
    {
      pr_notice("Read error %d\n", err);
      return 0;
    }
  else
    pr_info("Value read : %x\n", byte_read);

  byte_read = 0xc2;

  err = ec_write(0xd2, byte_read);
  if (err)
    pr_notice("Write error %d\n", err);
  else
    pr_info("Value written : %x (battery mode enabled)\n", byte_read);
  
  return 0;
}

static void __exit acpi_msiecbt_exit(void)
{
  return;
}

module_init(acpi_msiecbt_init);
module_exit(acpi_msiecbt_exit);

Another option would be of course the general approach of trying the CPU MSR registers directly, but I suspect I may have a few surprises, since there may be reasons why MSI did this through the EC.

Further research :

The TCC offset workaround :

Reference documentation can be found here, the register is defined in volume 4 of the manuals : Model-specific registers

BEWARE, improper execution may crash your system or even damage your hardware

I've now another workaround (thanks Doug Smythies) that consists in lowering the temperature limit of the CPU, through modification of the MSR_TEMPERATURE_TARGET (address 0x1a2) register. Bits 23 to 16 contain the temperature target, in degrees Celsius, that's the lowest temperature at which the PROCHOT# signal will always be asserted. This limit can be lowered by an offset that can be written from bits 29 to 24. (Depending on your system, that value may be available for modification in your BIOS' settings, in case you don't fancy the raw MSR write)

How to do this : you have to use the rdmsr and wrmsr commands :

  1. Make sure Secure Boot is disabled. Otherwise you won't be able to perform raw writes to the MSR register.
  2. Be root, or prepare to use sudo in the usual way.
  3. (optional) Execute rdmsr -d -f 23:16 0x1a2 to get your CPU package's temperature target.
  4. (optional) Execute rdmsr -d -f 29:24 0x1a2 to get the current TCC activation offset.
  5. Execute rdmsr 0x1a2 to get the full contents of the register, in hex. Let's assume it's 5640000. Bits 29 to 24 are 5 hex (5 decimal), bits 23 to 16 are 64 hex (100 decimal), hence the current temperature limit is 100-5=95°C. Suppose you want to reduce the temperature limit to 75°C, hence an offset of 25°C (19 hex). The new value of the register, in hex, should then be 19640000.
  6. Execute wrmsr 0x1a2 0x19640000.
  7. The target temperature is now 75°C.

While it worked well, the fans are more calm, and I don't experience slowdowns, this is only a workaround since my CPU then remains at 75°C during the whole gaming session, which is still far too hot considering the task.

8
  • What is "CPU package"? Oct 21, 2021 at 16:18
  • @mikewhatever: ?? Intel Core i7-10870H. Oct 21, 2021 at 18:15
  • Any solution needs quantitative data. I have trouble with the CPU goes crazy too often, hence the fans, and for no good reason and suggest it needs to be backed up with temperature, package power, CPU utilization data, potentially revealing reasons for throttling, or whatever. I prefer tubostat (linux tools common package) as the main feedback tool for tuning the system to get the most out of it. i.e. sudo turbostat --Summary --quiet --show Busy%,Bzy_MHz,IRQ,PkgWatt,PkgTmp,RAMWatt,GFXWatt,CorWatt --interval 6. Oct 21, 2021 at 19:05
  • @mikewhatever : CPU package is a term to designate the CPU and whatever comes with it. I saw it during my research in this specific context.
    – NovHak
    Oct 21, 2021 at 19:29
  • @DougSmythies : Thanks for your attention. The description of the symptom is clear enough, unless you have the MSR registers solution in mind I suppose. I will get this data, making sure it's collected while "the CPU goes crazy for no good reason", and come back here !
    – NovHak
    Oct 21, 2021 at 20:09

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