Modern computer components have significant hidden performance reserves provided by contemporary manufacturing technologies. These hidden reserves can be used to improve performance considerably. This can be achieved via forced modes — either moderate overclocking with partial implementation of reserves, or an extreme variant that gets the most out of potential reserves of computer-hardware components.
The problem of using computer components (particularly processors) in forced modes has been avidly discussed in recent years. Many publications and Web sites (some references will be provided in the appropriate sections of this book) have been dedicated to this topic.
Overclocking procedures are aimed at enhancing the functional capabilities of computers, the most important goal being performance gain. Note that numerous methods allow you to achieve this goal. These methods include hardware tuning for a specific configuration, as well as fine-tuning of the operating system and application software. Optimization of the chosen operating system holds a special place among these operations. Regular maintenance procedures are also important. All of these operations are aimed at achieving the maximum possible performance of the computer.
Further reserves for performance improvement are related to implementation of the overclocking potential, which often remains hidden from end users. The measures that implement this hidden potential include special operating modes of computer components and the usage of special software tools such as accelerators and drivers. Besides this, newer versions of BIOS codes can be useful. Versions developed for powerful high-performance devices also may be suitable.
Overclocked modes with the optimal choice of external and internal clock frequencies are the most important means implementing hidden reserves. This ensures the possibility of achieving maximum performance of computer hardware.
Motherboard manufacturers, trying to attract potential users, not only support overclocking capabilities, but also promote and popularize features that support the possibility of using such modes. Some manufacturers even supply software products with their motherboards that simplify the implementation of overclocked modes. As a result, the overclocker community has grown. Even official overclocking contests have become a common event.
Different people have different views of the overclocking problem. Some users are not excited by this aspect. Others consider themselves the principal opponents of overclocking, based on the well-grounded opinion that performance gain that results from overclocking has a negative effect on the overall stability and reliability of a system's components. The third category of users contains the overclocking fans. Each party has strong arguments and deserves respect; therefore, each user must make his or her own choice.
Nevertheless, things aren't that simple as they might seem at first glance. Overclocking isn't a panacea for performance improvement. It cannot help you to turn your Intel Pentium III into an Intel Pentium 4.
There are two types of overclocking. These differ in both method and goal.
The first type is known as extreme overclocking, or overclocking for its own sake. When choosing this approach, extremely high results can be achieved. However, practical work in such modes might be impossible, because both overclocked systems and their operating conditions are usually exotic. This may remind you of Formula One cars: They race at nearly aerospace speeds and they are unsuitable for driving under normal conditions. Such extreme overclocking is usually incompatible with stable operation of processors; therefore, it is of little or no interest to ordinary PC users. Some people even consider extreme overclocking to be a kind of extreme sport. Extreme overclocking normally requires cryogenic cooling via liquid gases. Such experiments are usually conducted to report specific records. Under current conditions, extreme overclocking can be considered research work, which contributes to contemporary scientific knowledge.
Another type of overclocking is achieved without a negative effect on overall system stability. Moderate overclocking is the optimal compromise between high performance and excellent reliability. This sort of overclocking interests the vast majority of users. For this reason, it is the main topic of this book. This type of overclocking also can be used for scientific evaluation of the capabilities of semiconductor technologies and the architecture of specific computer-hardware components. Such evaluation can be used to predict future development.