Ryzen Power Plan Update: Min. Frequency 90%, Disables Core Parking

By Published April 06, 2017 at 4:36 pm

AMD today made available a power plan update which should change how the Balanced plan impacts Ryzen performance.

Problems with Windows preset power modes have been one of the biggest annoyances with Ryzen, and AMD has officially recommended the High Performance preset in the past in order to avoid subpar performance in benchmarks. This wasn’t a big deal from a testing point of view since High Performance mode effectively avoids all of these issues, but for everyday use, it was: High Performance mode doesn’t allow CPU frequency to drop when idle, and the additional power consumption can really hurt the long-term value of the system (it’s also just wasteful). Balanced mode does drop frequency, but it’s also been overly aggressive with core parking on Ryzen chips specifically, making it sub-optimal for use. We discussed what this looks like from a user’s point of view in our “Just Research” article, where frequency plots offer visualization for the impact of Performance vs. Balanced mode. The same article contains some FPS benchmarks between the two power modes.

AMD has made two major changes in this update. Quoting their statement:

  1. Maintain residency in CPU p0 or p1 to give Zen full control over clocks and volts.

  2. Disable core parking.

They specifically noted that Intel also fully disables core parking in the Balanced power plan. Our tests have always used High Performance mode for Ryzen platforms (except power tests), and our results will not be affected by this update.

To be more specific, there are three key differences between the High Performance mode we have been using and the new Ryzen balanced mode:

  1. Windows 10 high performance plan sets both CPU freq_min% and CPU freq_max% to 100%. Our plan sets 90-100%.

  2. AMD leaves PCI Express Link State Power Management (ASPM) enabled.

  3. AMD allows the display to turn off after 10 mins (like Balanced); High Performance is 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, 90% minimum processor state is quite a bit more than Intel’s balanced power plan, which has a minimum of 5%. Still, taken together, these changes should be a meaningful improvement over using High Performance all the time.

Another interesting tidbit:

“Win7 keeps all physical cores awake, and parks SMT cores. Win10 keeps one physical and one logical core away (Core0+1), then parks the rest as often as possible. This change alone is what’s responsible for the cases where Win7 was faster than Win10 gaming performance, not the scheduler as the community thought.”

This doubles down on AMD’s previous statement that Windows 10 thread scheduling was not the problem.

AMD has provided their own benchmarking results, which we haven’t had time yet to independently verify. We expect our own results to be in line with the performance differences between the unpatched Balanced mode and High Performance, which was roughly 5% in the worst cases.

Here’s AMD’s chart:

GAME RES Uplift of AMD Plan vs. Balanced (Win10 Default)
Battlefield One: Ultra (DX12) 1920x1080x32 10.77%
Battlefield One: Ultra (DX11) 1920x1080x32 5.66%
Mafia 3:  High (DX11) 1920x1080x32 5.26%
Gears of War 4 Ultra 1920x1080x32 16.50%
Rise of the Tomb Raider: Veryhigh (DX12) 1920x1080x32 4.10%
Total War Warhammer: Ultra (DX12) 1920x1080x32 5.34%
Total War Warhammer: Ultra (DX11) 1920x1080x32 3.33%
Mirrors Edge Catalyst: Ultra 1920x1080x32 4.81%
Dota 2: Ultra (DX11) 1920x1080x32 6.33%
Batman Arkham Knight 1920x1080x32 4.61%
Overwatch: Epic (Russia) 1920x1080x32 5.10%
Overwatch: Epic (Hollywood) 1920x1080x32 4.45%
Overwatch: Epic (Numbani) 1920x1080x32 4.71%
Battlefield 4 (Airfield) 1920x1080x32 3.41%
Battlefield 4 (Dam) 1920x1080x32 8.75%
Battlefield 4 (Naval) 1920x1080x32 10.07%
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare 1920x1080x32 7.11%
Murdered Soul Suspect: High 1920x1080x32 14.83%
Watch Dogs: Ultra 1920x1080x32 11.89%
Watch Dogs: High 1920x1080x32 12.12%
Thief: Preset Very High 1920x1080x32 3.68%
Thief: Preset Normal 1920x1080x32 7.96%
Shadows of Mordor: Very High 1920x1080x32 6.08%
GTA V: Max 1920x1080x32 4.44%
Far Cry 4: Ultra 1920x1080x32 3.72%
Project Cars: Ultra 1920x1080x32 9.03%
Alien Isolation 1920x1080x32 8.52%
Crysis 3 (Jailbreak) 1920x1080x32 21.56%
Bioshock Infinite: Ultra (DX11 DDOF) 1920x1080x32 4.27%
Bioshock Infinite: Ultra (DX11) 1920x1080x32 7.87%

Again, this update will not affect our test results, but it will hopefully make customer’s lives a little easier. Check AMD’s website today for the Ryzen Balanced power plan and more info: it will be integrated into a chipset driver update in the future and will set the new, optimized plan as the default. For now, it’s a download from their AMD blog.

Sr Editor: Patrick Lathan

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