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I want to read up on clock skew + other "exotic" OC BIOS Voltage settings (980X)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I have been following Miahallen's Guide to Overclocking. I think I have achieved a pretty good "first result" but now I'd like to go after that last 10%... looking for advice on what to try/change next.

Has anyone got suggestions on what I could read up to understand how changing the following settings may help get me further:

- clock skew
- PLL voltages (and voltages other than Vcore)
- Specifically any more in-depth voltage / clock impacts that are specific to the 32nm/980X series

I have done numerous runs in a controlled manner, changing one setting at a time. I realise everyone's chip is different, so I'm looking to understand what settings to change, how to change them, and how they impact, rather than just "try setting X it worked for me" (because it probably won't work for my specific chip, and if it does, I want to understand the limits anyway)

The story so far...

07_Asus_P6X58D_Premium_Gigabyte_HD5870_Eyefinity_6_and_Noctua_NH-D14_in_Lian_Li_PC-B25S_Case.jpg

(More build pictures are here)

I went through the BCLK multipliers for my board (with low CPU & RAM multi), and found the motherboard stable at 210 BCLK (and also no problems at 220 on a short run of 5 x Maximum IBT, but I ran the 210 overnight with IBT so I feel better about that one)

I went through the RAM speed and found it OK up to 1600 (low CPU multi), since I plan a slight underclock of the RAM I didn't try to push it any further. Also ran memtest86 through a run once I reached 1600 (4hrs for the 12G).

In these 2 processes, I didn't seem to need any change to the base voltages suggested in the guide (QPI/Vtt=1.2V, IOH Core=1.1V). I did find that upping the DRAM voltage from the default of 1.5V (which is what the G.Skill are stock) to 1.64V seemed to help the RAM speed tests. So I left it there. Not sure if the 1.64V is now hurting my 1.5V G.Skill Ripjaws though.

Thus, I end up with QPI/Vtt=1.2V, IOH Core=1.1V, and VDRAM=1.64V

The I used a spreadsheet I made to pick a possible target, set the CPU multi (23x) & DRAM multi (8x) to their intended final values, and went up through the BCLK starting from stock frequency for the 980X CPU at my selected multiplier (145Mhz x 23 = 3.33GHz), in 5Mhz increments.

So I'd go up in 5MHz increments on BCLK, test stability (I picked Intel Burn Test on 5 x Maximum), and if it seemed OK, then I would move up another 5MHz. If not OK (failed IBT result), then I would bump up Vcore by one notch, and try again. I got it up to 4.2GHz with HyperThreading ON, DRAM is running at 1467, and Vcore is at 1.36V (actually set at 1.375V in BIOS, with LLC Enabled - it doesn't change from load to no-load conditions in CPU-Z though, just sits on 1.36V in CPU-Z)

I then tried running LinX and found that after about 12 hours I would get errors, so I dropped back a few BCLK and tried again. I now have it stable at 4140MHz, based on 50 runs of LinX at "All Mem" settings (problem size 37568), followed by 30 hours of Prime95 Torture Test.

As a result, I generated a little chart, which is quite interesting since the relationship between my "Stable" Vcore and Frequency seems reasonably clear. There is one funny looking point where there is a pink (unstable) dot at the same point as a stable dot, it's actually because I had gone up a notch in BIOS, but the voltage reading in CPU-Z (which is what I was plotting) didn't change - I suspect the resolution of the voltage monitor is not fine enough to tell me that the pink dot is actually slightly below. Also I suspect that if I hit it with 40+ hours of testing I might need to up the Vcore a notch or two.

Using this chart I can roughly figure out what Vcore I will need for any given frequency (at least for a CPUx23 multi). Also any combination of frequency & Vcore in the area to the left of and above the line joining my green dots should be stable (also you could figure out how fast you could go down at lower volts, and note that my dots are horizontal at slightly below 1.2V because that's the minimum I tested - the processor will be stable at lower voltages I would assume). I have put "Temperature" in inverted commas since RealTemp actually uses the "Distance to Target", which I checked in my processor was 101. I haven't bothered with Idle "temperatures" since the non-linearity of the sensors (as per the Intel Datasheet for the 980X, which I have read) means they are not that relevant. I was just trying to keep my CPU from peaking too far into the Thermal Control area (DTM between 20 and 1, which corresponds to temperatures of "80" to "100"), and thus avoiding Thermal Throttling which would kick in at DTM=1 ("temp" >= 100).

I will attach my "trial log" (75 runs so far). At the start I was just randomly hacking around, then I started following a more structured approach and got much better (and stable) outcomes that I could understand how I had achieved.


And now to the future...

It would appear from my Vcore vs. CPU Speed chart (at 23x CPU Multi) that I'm not going to be able to go much further, if at all (at least on air cooling, which is what I am using) due to heat under full load. I'd like to leave HT on for now.

I have also made another useful little spreadsheet that lets me easily pick other "similar" combinations that give speeds that should be achievable. I have highlighted my stable one in dark purple, and the others I considered trying in light purple. I have posted the blank version of the spreadsheet as well in case others find it useful here.

I would like to achieve the following:

(1) "Highly Stable System" (by which I mean 24hrs+ of Prime95, 50 runs of LinX at maximum problem size, 12+ hrs of IBT, overnight on Memtest86, etc etc)

(2) Air cooled system (I picked the NH-D14 since it seems to be in the top end, so whatever I can achieve with that)

(3) Voltages "within reason" (don't want to cook it during the stability tests)

As my background is electrical engineering, I understand roughly what the settings mean (i.e. changing a voltage is not "magic wand" stuff), but I have had trouble finding detailed analysis of what each of the myriad of other settings in the BIOS actually affect, and how to change them in a controlled and meaningful manner (i.e. this is my first OC, so I don't understand what the settings actually do with respect to OC'ing). Most of what I find is "this might help" - if someone can point me towards detailed analysis of how slew impacts their stability, or likewise for all the other voltages, please help!

I have modified QPI/Vtt (=1.2V), IOH Core (=1.1V), and VDRAM (=1.64V), as well as Vcore. The rest are set on Auto, as are all the slew settings. I presume by changing some of these other voltages or slew settings I could probably reduce my Vcore and get lower temps, or alternatively I could increase the speed.

One other specific question I had was whether the 1.64V I am feeding my 12GB (3x4GB) 1.5V G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600 DRAM (F3-12800CL9T-12GBRL) is doing any harm.

Otherwise, any suggestion is welcome, and if you could point me to more reading material on the detailed impact of the other settings that would be greatly appreciated.
Edited by scubadiver - 1/22/11 at 1:52am
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post #2 of 7
That's one doozy of a post. I'm going to be honest, I skimmed a few parts smile.gif

Anyways, the advanced stuff (like PLLs, clock skews, Differential Amplitude, DQ Vref, etc) usually doesn't concern most people, so unfortunately they won't get much attention in a guide. Google and trial-and-error are your best friends for those (although i'd be happy to explain most of those).

For your voltage and heat concerns, I should ask how long you want to keep that computer. Are you going to be upgrading in 2-3 years regardless or is it going to be expected to last 6+ years?

Concerning the ram, it won't hurt it to run at 1.64v. But, assuming you haven't changed the timings, it's spec'd for 1.5v at 1600mhz, and if you currently have it at 1440mhz(?) it shouldn't need more than 1.5v.

Lastly, I don't have Excel installed on my computer right now (so I can't see your various attempts), but what's your overclocking goal? 4ghz with low voltages and heat? 4.1ghz and optimize the voltages? 4.2ghz+ and efficiency be damned?
 
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Wild eyes (2015)
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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I figured it was a bit long, but at the same time I wanted to make sure all the information was there, otherwise I would be getting a whole lot of random "why don't you try XXXX" which probably wouldn't help. I want a controlled approach.

I'd like the computer to last ~5years, preferably a bit longer. However I won't be folding or doing anything else that will maintain an extremely high temperature. Thus for my stability testing I wasn't too fussed to see "temperatures" peaking just over 80. This represents the point where Intel expect your cooling to kick up a gear and maintain a certain heat transfer (according to the datasheet for the i7 980X), and since the core temps were mostly around 75 (with 12 cores all running IBT or LinX), it will be fine for what I am likely to do to it.

I'd like to avoid ever having the CPU enter thermal throttling, and would also like a bit of headroom. So peaks of 85 (distance-to-throttling of 15 degrees) during stress testing is fine by me, since I will probably never get it up there in real life. (I am of course just roughly guessing that these restrictions will allow me to last 5 years)

This is a little chart of my attempts at the x23 multiplier with my current settings. All the pink dots were unstable (usually found after a few hours of IBT / Linx, sometimes slightly earlier), and the green dots were stable. I actually found overnight with IBT would be stable about 3 Vcore increments below where LinX would come out as stable. I'm running at the right-most green dot right now (the next multi increment started getting warm...)

stable-and-unstable-vcore-vs-CPU-speed-_up-to-run-75_.png

And a chart with the peak temperature as well, for just the stable runs (actual temps generally sat 5 to 10 below this):

stable-vcore-and-temps-running-IBT-vs-CPU-speed-_up-to-run-75_.png

From this chart I think if I want to get past my 4.14GHz I will probably need something other than simply "increase Vcore", and there are lots of other BIOS settings just staring me in the face, asking to be changed!

Not so fussed about efficiency, but once I waste too much power, I won't meet my heat targets, and then the CPU won't last so long. And of course too much volts = electron migration damage.

I would much appreciate any explanation you can give on what these others mean / do to the PC. Or if I can even use them to get past where I am now. I'd "like" to get to 4.5GHz, but I suspect that is unattainable with my other temp/voltage/longevity desires. Somewhere between 4.2 and 4.4 would be nice. Maybe "increase Vcore" is the only answer, I don't know. But I assume increasing Vcore is just the simplest way to solve the little picosecond "problems" that are occurring inside the chip, and (hopefully) there are alternatives.
Edited by scubadiver - 1/24/11 at 11:41am
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post #4 of 7
Well, I already have a 5.27 GHz Gulftown, I can answer all of your questions, but whenever I post links back to my site, someone on here cries "spammer spammer."
5.27 GHz i7-980X
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5.27 GHz i7-980X
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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Couldn't find your site with Google (probably poor choice of keywords). I did find the place you bought your PC from (but that was easy).

I of course will be sticking to air and thus unlikely to achieve your speeds - although I admit the existence of a 7kW multi-head air conditioning loop in the room where I have my PC has tempted me - would just be a matter of something that could transfer heat fast enough from the CPU to the A/C refrigerant loop and I would have no noise level worries, since the condenser is outside! (A/C runs 24x7) Anyway, always good to leave something for next time.

Actually I should note that the 6 Noctua fans in my case (I replaced all the case fans too, so 2xCPU heatsink + 4 x Case fans) are pretty quiet. What I hear is actually just air moving, although I have to switch off all the other older, noisier PC's in the room to even hear that. (Older noisier PCs about to be decommissioned)
Edited by scubadiver - 1/24/11 at 11:06am
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post #6 of 7
The PLLs are the clock generators for various parts, and they're responsible for keeping their component in sync with the host frequency (the bclk in this case). The QPI pll is the most sensitive to voltage changes, followed by the CPU pll. The IOH pll shouldn't need to be changed for 24/7 overclocks.

Clock skews: Communications between the IOH, CPU, and memory use paired transmission lines. One line carries data only, and the other transmits stuff like type of data, signal requests, and acknowledgments. They have to be in sync (or very close), but when overclocking it's easy to become separated. A clock skew solves this by sending the earlier-received signal on a special delaying loop, and hopefully the late signal shows up by the time the first signal finishes it's loop. But you shouldn't need an IOH or CPU clock skew until 215bclk/4.5ghz.

Differential amplitude: As frequency and power increases, signals become more "jittery" and "dirty". This noise can be mistaken for a legitimate signal sometimes, so setting a higher scope/range of acceptable frequencies can help with random BSoDs.

DQ Vref is for the memory, but you usually need an osciloscope to use it effectively.
 
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Wild eyes (2015)
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post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
At present I am at 4.14GHz (180x23). If I up the BCLK to say 183 to hit just over 4.2GHz, last time I did that I found it was not fully stable (LinX died after a while).

If I do go up to BCLK of 183-185, should I now play with QPI PLL &/or CPU PLL voltages, &/or CPU Differential Amplitude to try to find a bit more stability, without changing Vcore? I read in some cases having a lower than usual PLL voltage may also help on 980X's (can't remember which PLL that was).

Incidentally on my motherboard I have CPU PLL voltage listed separately, but the closest to QPI PLL I have is "QPI/DRAM Core voltage" is this the same thing? (BIOS shots of my M/B brand here, these are not my settings: http://techgage.com/article/asus_p6x58d_premium/2 )

And if it would help for me to post a set of BIOS settings, is there a piece of software that can pull them all out of the Asus P6X58D Premium? Or do I have to use a camera.
Edited by scubadiver - 1/24/11 at 3:17pm
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Mako
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