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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Linux gets CPU frequency scaling for Raspberry Pi

Although the small computer Raspberry Pi can be relatively easily overclocked, for the CPU frequency so far mainly provides the firmware. The Linux kernel now gets drivers to control the CPU frequency itself.

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

To get the most out of your Raspberry Pi small computer, users have easy ways to permanently overclock the device. All others use a CPU frequency, which is regulated by a so-called governor, depending on the distribution. The actual work is ultimately delivered to the firmware. In the future, the Raspberry Pi should get a real driver for scaling the CPU frequency.

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The Suse developer Nicolas Saenz Julienne has now published the necessary patches on the mailing list of kernel developers. With the new Cpufreq driver for the Raspberry Pi, the Linux kernel completely takes over the scaling and setting of the correct CPU clock. The driver ensures that the values desired by the kernel are set directly through an interaction with the hardware instead of leaving these changes to the firmware as previously.

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This procedure is not new and is implemented for many different CPU architectures, for example with the Pstate driver for Intel CPUs or even for some other ARM SoCs. Now follows a driver for the most popular craft calculator, the Raspberry Pi. The work is not that easy.

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So the developers had the problem that changes to the clock of the CPU of the small computer previously also affected all other devices that were not prepared for it. This is no longer the case in the current version of the patches since it also interacts directly with the clock driver of the used chip BCM2835. Should the work soon be incorporated into the main branch of the Linux kernel, it should probably be adopted by many Linux distributions and thus be available to a large number of users.

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