TECRA A9-S9017 -- Idles too hot -- Hardware Support

Ian Smith smithi at nimnet.asn.au
Mon Aug 25 15:44:06 UTC 2008

I'd cc Wes Morgan too, but his address doesn't appear here.

On Sun, 24 Aug 2008, freebsd_user at guice.ath.cx wrote:
 > Continuing this thread.  See below for annotations
 > On Sun, Aug 10, 2008 at 09:28:19PM -0500, Wes Morgan wrote:
 > > On Sun, 10 Aug 2008, freebsd_user at guice.ath.cx wrote:
 > > 
 > > >	I've been through his before with an AMD setup (desktop) and now, 
 > > >here we go again using a Toshiba TECRA A9-S9017 laptop. The issue here is, 
 > > >is
 > > >appears that FreeBSD is causing the motherboard and its chipset(s)
 > > >and/or CPU's to work wide open (full throttle) --disregard for APM. I'm

APM?  I guess you mean ACPI on a modern laptop?  See below ..

 > > >basing this on the amount of heat coming from this current laptop while
 > > >the laptop is idling, The heat is to the point that you can't keep the
 > > >laptop on your lap; in addition to the battery not lasting quite an hour 
 > > >while idling.
 > > 
 > > Try using powerd(8).
 > > 
 > I have done so with little improvement as far as the heat goes.  When we 
 > first requested help (this thread), the role of this machine was to be a 
 > freebsd desktop.  Since then we lost a mail server and have been forced to 
 > use the 'subject' machine as a replacement --until whenever-- meaning it 
 > is plugged in 24/7.

While I take Remko's point in terms of the hardware levels he'd be used 
to, laptops can make quite good small servers, for small networks, like 
ours .. this mailserver runs on a 300MHZ 1999 Compaq Armada 1500c :) but 
yours sounds rather wasted on such a job.

 > as stated above 'powerd' is being used and we do notice less heat after 
 > the machine hasn't been used for a period of hours.  However, even though 
 > we consider the machine as idling, because we haven't used it in hours, 
 > other than the mail coming in; X.org is not running and the lid/LCD is 
 > closed and off, the machine is quite warm --not as hot as it was.

This review http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=4071 says 
that it doesn't run too hot (with Vasta) but the temperatures shown 
perhaps bely that.

However we need some empirical data about what it's doing.  Showing your 
/var/run/dmesg.boot and 'sysctl hw.acpi' output would be a good start.

 > Soon after we login remotely, the heat ramps up again to the point were 
 > you can't keep the 'subject:' machine on your lap; there are time we do 
 > need to use the machine directly which includes placing the machine on 
 > ones' lap.
 > With that being said, 'man powerd' states the default is to run in 
 > "adaptive" mode but, the bug section of the same man page states: 
 > "If powerd is used with power_profile, they may override each other."
 > -- How do I know, or find out, if the above (override) is taking place?
 > -- How to tell what state/mode 'powerd' is in at any particular timestamp?

Secondly, in its own window or vty, as root, run /etc/rc.d/powerd stop 
(if it's running) then run 'powerd -v' which runs in foreground and says 
exactly what it's doing re shifting CPU frequency under various loads.

It's also useful to watch the temperature(s) directly over the time, see 
acpi_thermal(4) and try logging those sysctls periodically in a script.

Firstly, yes that comment isn't too helpful .. power_profile only acts 
(so far) when you apply or remove AC power, using the following values 
from /etc/defaults/rc.conf unless you've set them otherwise:

performance_cx_lowest="HIGH"            # Online CPU idle state
performance_cpu_freq="HIGH"             # Online CPU frequency
economy_cx_lowest="HIGH"                # Offline CPU idle state
economy_cpu_freq="HIGH"                 # Offline CPU frequency

If you have a look at /etc/rc.d/power_profile you'll see that these are 
applied to sysctl hw.acpi.cpu.cx_lowest (from hw.acpi.cpu.cx_supported)
and dev.cpu.0.freq (from dev.cpu.0.freq_levels).  You can set the above 
variables to HIGH, LOW, a specific value, or NONE.

Specify "NONE" to have power_profile make no changes.  "C3" or at least 
"C2" can be useful CX values, in some machines helping with temperature.  
powerd will soon override the dev.cpu.0.freq setting anyway, so it's not 
a problem - again, watch powerd -v output - and I guess you'll rarely 
run on battery (you've got a nice 2-3 hour UPS, though :)

 > This machine has never run this hot, prior to running 'powerd'-- or run 
 > this warm, while idling with 'powerd' in comparison to running under windows 
 > --not trying to start and OS confilict here, trying to learn, understand 
 > and control this beast of a machine if possible.

Of course, and it's likely doable, though you might need to run 7-STABLE 
for the latest dual-core ACPI handling.  Let's see how we go with some 
real information, before suggesting taking this to freebsd-acpi at .  I 
don't see where you've mentioned what version of FreeBSD it's running?

 > FreeBSD is allowing me to handle my data in a more flexable, feature rich, 
 > secure and Free manner than windows.  We would prefer to stay with 
 > FreeBSD, but not if its going to burn-up our hardware.  We had to take our 
 > previous AMD/smp machine down because we couldn't keep the heat down 
 > without leaving the case open.  We loved that machine but it kept freezing 
 > due to heat.
 > There is another issue whereby 'APM' is enabled in /etc/rc.conf but while 
 > booting the machine the scrolling text is saying the 'APM' module, or 
 > something like that will not be loaded because of a missing kernel 
 > option/device.  But the kernel notes say its no longer neccessary to build 
 > the 'APM' into the kernel.  Can someone enlighten me as to what I should 
 > be doing with regards to bringing this heat down in addition to the 'APM' 
 > not actually being loaded when its enabled in the kernel.

You really don't want to run APM on modern hardware unless the ACPI on 
your machine is really, really broken, not even fixable by recompiling 
the AML code.  And I'm fairly sure that ACPI is required to run SMP (ie 
to use both cores).  Make sure that ACPI, not APM, is enabled in BIOS.

Let's start from a dmesg, sysctl hw.acpi and some powerd -v output ?

cheers, Ian

 > Thank you. 
 > TECRA_A9-S9017
 > > >My goals are: 1) to control the cpu and associated hardware (heat) 2) get 
 > > >all the native/installed hardware supported.  3) support for a "sierra 
 > > >wireless compass 597" <--> usb wireless WAN.  Should FreeBSD not support 
 > > >all of this machines hardware then we need not continue --unless people 
 > > >are actively working of support/drivers for the above.
 > > 
 > > Judging by the factory specs, you will probably find that 90% of the 
 > > hardware is supported or has a driver under development. Don't hold your 
 > > breath for the fingerprint reader, though. The wireless modem is a crap 
 > > shoot.
 > > 
 > > >I've been trying to work with FreeBSD on this TECRA A9 for the better part 
 > > >of two weeks and there are too many outstanding issues to continue.

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