I am using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and I would like to know if I can underclock my CPU when my computer is idle, and overclock when performance is needed. Is there some sort of software I can install and use? Or is is a hardware based thing? Any suggestions? Thanks!


Here are my CPU specs (just in case):

Intel® Atom™ CPU N270 @ 1.60GHz × 2


On the hardware size your processor supports SpeedStep (Intel CPU feature). Just make sure it is enabled in the BIOS.

Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology is an advanced means of enabling high performance while meeting the power-conservation needs of mobile systems. Conventional Intel SpeedStep® Technology switches both voltage and frequency in tandem between high and low levels in response to processor load. Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology builds upon that architecture using design strategies such as Separation between Voltage and Frequency Changes, and Clock Partitioning and Recovery.

On the OS side yours will utilize SpeedStep by default if it is enabled. To take a look at what it is doing install cpufreqtools by running sudo apt-get install cpufrequtils and then run cpufreq-info.

  • This seems to be a common feature on laptops now. My Lenovo X220 for example adjusts the CPU speed based on the power source. It also has a "boost" feature that 'overclocks' the CPU (but not outside its thermal design limits) in some circumstances. – Piku Jun 23 '13 at 8:26
  • How can I tell if SpeedStep is enabled and how can I enable it if not? – user151324 Jun 23 '13 at 14:05
  • I see this: The governor "ondemand" may decide which speed to use within this range. Does that mean SpeedStep is enabled? – user151324 Jun 23 '13 at 14:07
  • Yes. Should also be showing the low/high freq and how many steps in between along with how much time the processor has spent at each frequency. Can add a "as suggest ran cpufreq-info and this was the result" to your question. – Brian Jun 23 '13 at 19:40

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