Extreme Tuning Utility v4.2 Released - Introducing AppTune, Support for Sandy Bridge(-E), and WinBlue Update

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Extreme Tuning Utility v4.2 Released – Introducing AppTune, Support for Sandy Bridge(-E), and WinBlue Update

Author: Pieter-Jan Plaisier

As the attentive visitor knows, the Extreme Tuning Utility (“XTU”) project started in January last year. Together with the launch of the latest mainstream desktop platform, Haswell, the hard work of the teams in Intel and HWBOT finally came to a conclusion with the release of the first version of XTU with HWBOT support. The set-up of XTU is quite simple: you combine a generic (works with most motherboards) software overclocking tool with an internal benchmark, integrate data submission to HWBOT, and you can quickly overclock and benchmark with one tool. It has been two and a half months since the XTU software launched, and so far, the database counts 7,000 XTU profiles and slightly over 5,500 benchmark scores. The XTU benchmark has been one of the most successful benchmark additions to the HWBOT benchmark suite.

This week, a new version of the Intel XTU software will be available for download within 48 hours. Version 4.2 includes new features such as AppTune (beta), support for “Future Intel® Core™ i7 processor family for socket LGA-2011” (IVB-E), updated compatibility with WinBlue, and by popular demand support for Sandy Bridge(-E).

New features in XTU V4.2

  • WinBlue update
  • AppTune beta feature
  • HWBOT/Benchmark inclusion for all previously unsupported platforms (starting with SB and SB-E)
  • Support for overclocking Future Intel® Core™ i7 processor family for socket LGA-2011
  • Introducing AppTune (beta)

    Let us begin with a bit of background information. The Extreme Tuning Utility has been around for quite a while. In fact, ever since Nehalem (Core i7) Intel provides XTU as a generic overclocking tool. Intel used to distribute the software via OEM and ODM suppliers, and more often than not, the companies decided to develop their own overclocking software. For one, it is a lot easier to adapt software to BIOS code, than it is to adapt BIOS to software. Secondly, marketing teams see an in-house developed and designed software application as a unique selling point (“USP”). The user experience feedback and feature requests the development team at Intel could rely on was mostly that from an industry point of view. Next to the exposure of the integration with HWBOT and the XTU competitions, the coop project with HWBOT also allows the Intel developers to get more direct end-user feedback. This is exactly what we are looking for with AppTune.

    AppTune is a new feature available in XTU V4.2, and it allows dynamic overclocking for specific applications. The idea is very simple and extends the idea of Turbo Mode. As you know, via Turbo Mode you can make use of the available overclocking headroom to increase the performance automatically. Limited by parameters such as temperature, type of load, current, and of course, the Turbo configuration, the CPU will automatically overclock to a higher frequency. For example, a default Core i7 4770K will overclock from 3.5GHz to 3.9GHz in a single threaded application (provided the Power Control Unit (“PCU”) allows it). AppTune builds on this idea and allows you to control the CPU behaviour for each application separately.

    How does it work?

    Using XTU, you can create several overclocking profiles and save those locally. For example, you could create profiles:

    • Video-encoding: all cores to 4.2GHz
    • Gaming: two cores to 4.5GHz, others to 4.0GHz
    • IGP Gaming: two cores to 4.5GHz, and IGP to 1.5GHz
    • Idle: no overclock

    Currently, to switch between the profiles you need to open XTU and load the according applications. In theory, this works quite well, but it is not very user-friendly. AppTune allows you to pair an XTU profile to a specific software application (.exe). The XTU profile is applied automatically once the software application is loaded.

    Step by step: How to configure AppTune?

    Let us have a look at the various steps to get AppTune to work. What follows is first a list of the steps broken down in simple bullet points. Below that, we provide a more detailed guide including screenshots and extra information.

    • 1) Verify you are running XTU V4.2 (or higher)
    • 2) Enable the AppTune beta functionality in the settings
    • 3) Create XTU profiles you want to use for dynamic overclocking
    • 4) Turn on AppTune
    • 5) Add an AppTune profile
      • Select the application
      • Select the Prologue profile and duration
      • Select the eventual Profile
    • 6) Click pair, you have now tied the application an XTU profile
    • 7) Open the application you have paired with an XTU profile, and see the frequency adjust accordingly

    For this guide, we prepared three profiles:

    • No oc: everything is default, Turbo is configured as 39/38/38/37 (4c/3c/2c/1c)
    • Gaming: overclocked two cores, Turbo is configured as 45/45/40/40
    • Video encoding: overclocked all four cores, Turbo is configured as 42/42/42/42

    We pair the profiles to the Handbrake (handbrake.exe) video-encoding application.

    First, we enable AppTune in XTU V4.2.

    Secondly, we create the XTU applications via the Manual Tuning menu. Simply set the Turbo Core ratios, and then save the profiles by clicking Save via the sidebar menu on the right.

    When ready, go to the AppTune (beta) menu and turn on AppTune. Once we enable AppTune, the other XTU features are disabled (except for the Stress Tool). In the AppTune menu, select Add Profile. Browse to the Handbrake executable, and double click to select. Next, we can select our XTU profiles to pair with the executable. You will see there are two types of profiles:

    • Prologue Profile (“PP”): initial overclock profile
    • Profile in AC Power (“PiACP”): eventual overclock profile
    • Profile in Battery Power (only available on mobile systems)

    The PP is designed to support faster loading of applications and only last for a short period. For example, you can set the PP to 4.5GHz and 10 seconds. When opening Handbrake, the CPU frequency increases to 4.5GHz for 10 seconds before switching to the PiACP. The PiACP will be active as long as the application is active. This feature might come in handy to improve the responsiveness of applications.

    To show the difference, we have configured Handbrake with and without Prologue Profile.



    Notice that you can always edit a profile from within AppTune.

    CAVEAT! 1) Currently the beta functionality will only work when XTU is active, and when the application is on the foreground. AppTune currently does not support active pairing with application that runs in the background. Practically, that means the Handbrake AppTune overclock will reset when opening, for example, Notepad. 2) For mobile systems, there are different profile options available. You can choose between AC power and battery power. The battery power option is automatically detected when the system is unplugged. 3) Since AppTune relies heavily on the availability of run time overclocking controls, it will only be available on Ivy Bridge and newer platforms.

    Wanted: Feedback and Ideas!

    Since this feature is still in development, and therefore beta, the developers at Intel are very interested in the end-user feedback. The underlying idea of the AppTune functionality is to allow even more dynamic overclocking via XTU. Any suggestions (“I would like …”) or feedback (“Maybe change or consider …”) regarding the functionality is welcome. The more people request a specific feature, the higher importance it has in future development. Feature suggestions could be to pair XTU profiles to Hotkeys, allow XTU to run as background service (so it does not need to be open), or upload application-XTU pairings to HWBOT.

    Let us know what you do and do not like about this feature, what other features you would like to see included, and whether you find AppTune useful.

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