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softcooling (software cooling)

What is softcooling (software cooling)?

Softcooling is a software-based method of computer component cooling, conducted either by adjusting component settings or by using softcooling products. The practice reduces system heat by decreasing the power used by the CPU, graphics card and motherboard when the computer is idle or under light use.

Softcooling typically reduces component power consumption by one or a combination of three methods:

  • Undervolting: setting the processor core voltage lower than the default value specified by the manufacturer.
  • Underclocking: setting the processor speed lower than that specified by the manufacturer. (This is the opposite of overclocking.)
  • Controlling halt instructions: turning off inactive components or putting them in standby mode.

A home user might use softcooling to improve hardware function. For example, undervolting a laptop can keep it cooler and extend battery life. In a data center, softcooling can reduce power costs and help control ambient temperature. The practice can also save hardware and maintenance costs: Computer parts that overheat usually have a shorter life span and may not work reliably. Network administrators can install softcooling software on both servers and desktops. As a rule, the end user should not be aware of any reduction in computing power.


Learn More About IT:
Silentpcreview.com provides a tutorial on underclocking and undervolting.
Wikipedia has an entry about underclocking.
NordicHardware explains undervolting a laptop.

This was last updated in March 2011

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