How to create a PC environment where cutting edge quad-core processor technology can achieve its maximum potential.
PC Design Department Project Leader Section
PC Design Department Electrical Design Division
PC Design Department Mechanical design division
What is VAIO TruePerformance?
Starting in January of 2018, the quad-core (4-core) 8th generation Intel Core processor can be selected with the all new VAIO S. VAIO TruePerformance is a new technology unique to VAIO that maximizes performance in a processor, but what is it?
PC Design Project Leader, Eguchi Shuji: Simply put, it creates the ideal environment within the CPU for maximum performance.
What is the ideal environment for CPU performance?
Eguchi: When a CPU executes instructions it generates a lot of heat. This heat can accumulate inside the PC and measurably slow down performance if not addressed. Unlike large desktop PCs, notebooks have spatial restrictions around the mechanisms used to dissipate heat. This made us rethink the methods and technology in use to prevent overheating.
What happens if it overheats?
Eguchi: If the temperature reaches a certain level the CPU will begin to “throttle” performance in an attempt to control the amount of heat being produced, but if it can’t moderate use, it will shut down.
Is this common for notebook computers?
Eguchi: Historically, it has been a risk for ultra-thin laptops and high performance CPUs, but we have designed VAIO notebook PCs to avoid that risk. It sounds like heat management inside a notebook PC is vital to performance.
How are you tackling this problem?
PC Mechanical Designer in charge of thermal design, Kumitaki Hisatomi: Total balance is essential for efficient thermal design in a notebook PC. On a desktop PC you can gauge the CPU temperature visually, and even increase speed by replacing the lubricant separating the CPU and heatsink with one with a lower thermal resistance. However, on a notebook PC, there are multiple places where processing can bottleneck and generate heat, so it’s key to identify those first. You also want a space-saving mechanism since a more robust one will affect the notebook’s weight and design. We conducted over 100 heat elimination tests before creating prototypes so that we can identify the issues and resolve them in detail. And not to put too fine of a point on it, but VAIO is confident in our technology and expertise at creating thin notebook PCs. As Design Project Leader Eguchi Shuji previously mentioned, we take pride in our ability to achieve maximum performance of the CPU in a conventional model.
How to increase processor speed for extended daily use
It sounds like you were able to enhance CPU performance before introducing VAIO TruePerformance. What does it do exactly?
CPU/Graphics Designer, Hiraka: Intel CPUs, such as Core i7 used by VAIO, has "Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0" installed, which enhances performance at peak load if the ideal internal CPU conditions of power consumption and temperature are met and balanced. However, the duration of maximum performance is limited and will degrade to a certain level over time. VAIO TruePerformance is a unique technology that maintains performance at a higher level longer.
So VAIO TruePerformance is able to achieve and sustain higher performance levels rather than trying to extend the maximum performance period.
Hiraka: Since power consumption and overheating are unavoidable challenges, extending the maximum performance duration is not realistic. We focused on creating a higher, longer level after the maximum performance level ended because we felt the user would experience the benefit in extended daily use.
Hisatomi: Boost time is about 20 to 30 seconds. Even if it reaches 40 seconds it doesn’t make much impact on actual work time. Moreover, power consumption increases three-fold during that time, so it just makes sense to maintain a higher level after the peak.
That does make sense! Can you tell me a little more about the specifics of doing that?
Hiraka: First, we increased the CPU power limit which increases the frequency within range limits and improves performance.
Are there detriments to increasing the power limit?
Hiraka: Yes, heat dissipation becomes a problem and the circuit that supplies power has to be more powerful itself. Increased heat dissipation and changing the power supply should have broken the “balance” that Mr. Hisatomi mentioned earlier, but with VAIO TruePerformance there was no need to modify the notebook’s appearance at all. We were surprised that was possible.
Eguchi: When the VAIO S with 7th generation dual core CPU was released in 2017, we were designing the motherboard with VAIO TruePerformance ™ in mind. We are also strengthening the power supply circuit on all VAIO TruePerformance compatible models and ensuring their appearance does not change either.
Hisatomi: The excess heat problem created by raising the power limit was resolved by making the vent thicker and developing a cooling fan out of materials with better dissipation performance. We also refined the rotation speed control algorithm of the cooling fan. These are no small feats of engineering, but we also don’t think they are necessarily things to brag about.
Hisatomi: Well, I think it’s a common issue for other notebook PC manufacturers as well. Thermal design needs are kind of universal, and the desire for “balance” as mentioned earlier is the key.
Eguchi: Actually, and just between us for background purposes, I came from the team that dealt with thermal design when transitioning to the 8th generation Intel Core and a quad-core, where we realized we could do more on this issue. That led us to start the VAIO TruePerformance project. There is quite a difference between “can do” and “will do”.
What made you decide to make that leap?
Eguchi: I think it is because VAIO is a company made up of engineers. Once we know we can do it, we just want to do it. (laughter)
VAIO TruePerformance has been a long term commitment
This is not VAIO’s first attempt to increase CPU power limits though, right?
Eguchi: Right. We have been trying to meet this challenge for a long time. Most recently with the release of the VAIO Z in 2015. This model had all the hallmarks of a flagship notebook PC, so we made a commitment to it, and I recall the responses from users were very good. It also is worth mentioning that many of the development members of the VAIO Z are design team members on the VAIO S.
Hiraka: Our first attempts did not produce the numbers we had expected, which led to a lot of trial and error.
Hisatomi: There were other parts of the process that were harder than we expected, even when we assumed they would work smoothly. (laughter)
Eguchi: This team has been fine-tuning VAIO TruePerformance for quite a while. Thanks to your hard work, the effect has been dramatic. In benchmark testing, it was a revelation to discover that the 8th generation Core i5 equipped model with VAIO TruePerformance applied actually exceeded speeds of the 8th generation Core i7 equipped model not using VAIO TruePerformance.
Performance comparison with conventional processor CPU: Benchmark score with Maxon Cinebench Version 184.108.40.206
Eguchi: I was surprised as well since that had not been our aim. Core i5 and Core i7 have a price difference of $200 (20,000 yen), which might make it difficult for some buyers to choose. When compared with other companies' products, we hope you will take this in consideration too. (laughter)
Will VAIO TruePerformance be incorporated into future products?
Eguchi: Yes. We hope it will be one of the hallmarks of VAIO products in the future. On a side note, this time we focused on performance (speed), but VAIO TruePerformance itself is a generic term for an evolution of the entire system. From now on, we may be able to apply VAIO TruePerformance in new and different ways. Please stay tuned.