Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What Do You Mean, "Throttle back"?

Seems so much effort is put into doing things faster, more efficiently, with more power, etc., it is an oddity when I have to seek out a solution to a problem that requires slowing things down.  But I just had to do that recently with my laptop.  Seems I have a fan that has gone bad and when the cpu gets used intensively, it heats up to the point the laptop will shut itself down in an effort to save itself from turning into a molten pool of electrical bits (and possibly burning down something like say, our house, in the process).

I have a challenge though with some software I run - Logos Bible Software - that I use for Bible study.  Whenever the indexer runs, it will peg the cpu at as close to 100% as it can get.  Only a few minutes of this will raise the cpu temp to a critical level.  This is normally not much of a problem as once the indexer runs the "first time" it doesn't have to do much after that.

However, the "first time" occurs after the software is updated in a way that requires a new index to be built.  That happened this week.  So now the indexer is starting from scratch.  I figure it would normally be about a 2 hour job to index everything if the fans were working properly.  No telling how long it would take if I had to sit here and keep pausing and restarting it.  In about 30 minutes last night I made it through about 7%.  But killing the indexer causes it to start over.

This led me to look for something to help control how many cpu cycles are being consumed by the indexer process.  My first try was to just try to set the priority lower (to the lowest level available).  That worked a little bit, but eventually it wound itself up into the 80%+ range which is enough to raise the cpu temp to the critical level given enough time.

A search of the web led me to Battle Encoder Shirase (aka BES), a small utility that let's you place a limit on a process.  I put that on and set it to limit the indexer to no more than 60% cpu usage.  Thus far it seems to be working well.  cpu usage is limited as it says it does and the cpu temp is holding in an acceptable range.  The drawback is the indexing is a lot slower.  In roughly 45 minutes it has completed about 15%.  But at least I can step away and work on some other stuff.

So nothing really amazing, but just wanted to report on an issue and a solution.  Never know when it might help someone else.

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