Dell releases BIOS updates to fix underperforming/overthrottling notebooks

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Hardware' started by kemical, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    Dell has released a raft of BIOS updates which should solve the underperformance/overthrottling issues that some users have been experiencing.
    The BIOS updates are for E4200/E4300/E5400/E5500/E6400 (including ATG and XFR models)/E6500/ Latitude and Precision M2400/M4400/M6400 notebooks and incorporate changed algorithms for thermal tables to accommodate a broader usage models. This should alleviate the issues that a small number of users were experiencing.
    Some owners of Dell notebooks using the above processors were experiencing severe underperformance and overthrottling, so much so that performance was being cut to a fraction of what it should be even when the systems were running at normal temperatures. According to a Dell spokesperson this issue only affected a small number of customers.
    Users can find BIOS updates for their systems over on Dell’s support site. New BIOSes can easily be identified because they are dated from the past few days (many of the updates seem to be dated yesterday, 12/1/2009).
    Here is a full list of updated BIOSes:
    · Latitude E4200
    · Latitude E4300
    · Latitude E5400
    · Latitude E5500
    · Latitude E6400
    · Latitude E6500
    · Latitude E6400 ATG
    · Latitude E6400 XFR
    · Dell Precision M2400
    · Dell Precision M4400
    · Dell Precision M6400
    Dell offical response can be found here.
    Throttling is a power management methodology used throughout the industry to balance system performance, component temperature and user experience. Throttling optimizes performance, regulates component temperatures and skin temperature (the amount of heat you feel at external touch points) while using a laptop.
    Under normal conditions and use (i.e. a typical office environment and running a typical set of applications), customers won’t see any issue at all. At this point, we’ve only heard from a small number of customers who have reported issues related to throttling. Those issues arose under more extreme thermal and usage models. These customers report more throttling than expected, plus they tend to experience a prolonged recovery time that sometimes requires a reboot to recover from the throttled state. In those scenarios, users may see slower system performance.
    What we learned from the customers we’ve talked to is that we could improve thermal algorithms that dictate throttling thresholds on our mainstream business-class product line. Previous BIOS revisions for some platforms were not optimized for certain extreme operating conditions.
    Two other points I think that are worth emphasizing:
    • It has been widely reported that a Dell forum member going by the name of tinkerdude who produced a PDF document detailing this issue was banned off the Dell support forum. This is inaccurate. This user was not banned.
    • It has also been widely reported that Dell has been censoring user comments by deleting posts. This is also inaccurate.
    It’s good to see Dell taking these kinds of issues seriously. This throttling issue even caught the attention of Dell CEO Michael Dell himself, who was actively engaged with the technical team.
    I’ve worked through tinkerdude’s (real name Randall Cotton) detailed 59 page PDF file (available here) and believe that while the document does demonstrate a problem, the case being presented is an edge case at best. The test that are carried out put a fair bit of stress on the system and they are hardly the sort of thing a Dell Latitude notebook should be expected to handle effortlessly.
    Also, it should be pointed out that throttling of hardware when it’s under load is a necessary fact of life, and doubly so when you’re talking about notebooks. If this wasn’t the case, components would fail and then people would be complaining about that. Swings and roundabouts.

    Dell releases BIOS updates to fix underperforming/overthrottling notebooks | Hardware 2.0 | ZDNet.com
     

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