Software Development

Going from a Neon to a Viper


I drive a Plymouth Neon to work every day. Not a Dodge Neon mind you,

but a good old fashioned Plymouth Neon. Nothing fancy. It's a nice

little car. Gets great gas mileage. Runs nice. Peppy 2.0 liter 16 valve

4 cylinder. Not fast mind you, but it gets the job done. Certainly not

a Viper by any stretch of the imagination. But I like it. I wish

it was faster sometimes, but I still like it and use it.

That about sums up my experience so far with my Lenovo Tablet PC. Until now.


It's been a nice little unit. I use it every day. I like it, but

I really had expected it to be faster than it was. I had

mentioned the speed problems I've had with it in other blog entries.

I originally thought it was because it was loaded down with too many

services. Then after I removed the unnecessary stuff, it still was

slow. Then I started suspecting Norton Antivirus which is notorious for

slowing down machines. But not even Norton's could make it as slow as

it felt.


Not any more. Now my Tablet PC is a Viper. It boots fast, opens

programs fast. Everything's zip, zip, zip. What was the difference?

Power Management.


Lenovo shipped me the unit with its Power Management settings

configured to run the CPU at its slowest setting whether it was plugged

in or on battery. Specifically, it was running at 243Mhz. Kind of like

running a 10 cylinder Viper on 2 cylinders.


With my HP Omnibook and Dell Inspiron, the Power Management settings

were always configured to run at low speed on battery and high speed

when plugged in. I didn't initially think to check to see if the Lenovo

was configured the same way, just rather made the assumption it was.


Using IBM's Power Manager, you've got about a dozen different choices

for how the Tablet PC operates on AC and on battery. You can also set

custom configurations. Mine came from Lenovo configured for Timers Off,

which essentially set everythint to the slowes possible setting to

maximize battery life and speed recharge times.


The first thing I did was set it back to Thinkpad (Default). That made

the Tablet work like my Dell and HP - faster on plug-in, slow on

battery. The difference for the Thinkpad's settign was how it handled

the CPU when plugged in. On the default setting, the CPU is configured

for Adaptive speed when plugged in. That means that the more you use

it, the faster it goes. When you're not using the computer as much, it

throttles back the CPU. On battery, it still ran slow all the time.

When I ran the tests with the CPU on Adaptive, the computer told me it

was now 593Hmz. Closer, but not the fully advertised 1.5Ghz.


So, I set the settings to Maximum Performance. That was Full Power all

the time - battery or A/C. Immediately it registered at the full speed

and the computer responded exactly the way I expected it to out of the

box. Naturally however, the battery took a major hit. Running at full

speed, IBM's 6.5-hour battery now exhausts itself in about 2 hours. And

because it's running at full power when plugged in, the battery also

charges slower. I wound up with the speed of a Dodge Viper, and

mileage to match it.


For now it's back to what should have been the original default. Why

Lenovo shipped it to me as it was, I can only speculate. Now it will go

fast when docked and slow to preserve battery power when not. I

may play with the Adaptive CPU speed to see how it affects battery

life, but that will be for another blog entry or TPG Article.


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