AMD Overdrive 3.0
AMD has started to pay special attention to software support of their Dragon platform lately. Targeting the computer enthusiast community, company developers got very involved into improving their brand name Overdrive utility. As we have already pointed out in our previous articles, this utility monitors and manages all the primary parameters of the CPU and memory subsystem. In fact, Overdrive allows users to get easy access to all BIOS Setup settings dealing with system fine tuning and overclocking right from the OS.
Many AMD system owners have had a great opportunity to really enjoy the convenience of the Overdrive utility. It simplifies and accelerates overclocking significantly. It allows users to configure all major processor and memory related settings directly from the OS and they will kick in without any system restarts. As a result, Overdrive is very convenient for initial search for most optimal CPU and memory settings, so that you could transfer them to the mainboard BIOS Setup after a practical test.
The new AMD Overdrive version 3.0.2 that is currently available for download supports a few very interesting features. The first one is BEMP technology (Black Edition Memory Profiles). In fact, this technology may be regarded as some alternative to XMP – optimized settings for DDR3 modules used in Intel platforms. Although AMD’s approach pursues the same goals – to optimize the memory subsystem for specific memory modules – it is still a little different. AMD developers offered to save profiles not in the memory modules SPD, but on their web-server. As a result, once Overdrive utility defines the make and model of your DDR3 SDRAM, it can load and activate memory timings, memory frequency, frequency of the North Bridge part integrated into the CPU and their voltages according to the best recommendations of AMD engineers.
Unfortunately, the list of memory modules supported by this BEMP technology is still pretty limited and it seems to be expanding slowly. Moreover, although AMD promised us that the Mushkin 996601 memory that we used should be supported, we didn’t manage to load any settings profiles for it using Overdrive utility.
The second function that we would like to specifically mention in this chapter of our review is called Smart Profiles. This technology allows to speed up (or even slow down) the CPU cores for certain tasks. Overdrive can determine what applications are active at a given moment of time and depending on that reconfigure the system parameters accordingly. The utility has a certain number of presaved profiles, mostly for popular games (new profiles can be downloaded automatically from the AMD web-server), but you can also configure all parameters manually.
The value of this technology is also in the fact that profile settings allow changing the multipliers for all processor cores independently. Therefore, if some game uses only two processor cores, you can lower the frequency of the other two for the time being, thus saving some power and ensure better overclocking of the active cores, for example.
So, AMD Overdrive offers AMD CPU owners some analogue to Intel Turbo Mode. With some persistence on your end you could increase the efficiency of your system. However, Intel Turbo Mode is autonomous as there is special logic in Core i7 CPUs that controls it. AMD makes the user responsible for managing the interactive adjustment of the CPU clock speed, which limits the functionality of Smart Profiles. Moreover, Smart Profiles technology is fully based on AMD Overdrive, so it won’t work unless you load and activate this utility.