Using Foundation Toolkit to Overclock Intel Core i9-14900K
We use use the Foundation Toolkit to overclock the Core i9-14900K processor on a GIGABYTE Z790 Aorus Master X motherboard.
The primary purpose of the blog post is to introduce you to the Foundation Toolkit software and show you how it works. All right, let’s jump straight in.
Table of Contents
Foundation Toolkit – Overview
Let’s immediately start with the buzzwords: Foundation Toolkit is a next-generation cloud-based CPU silicon customization software. It was co-developed by Matthias from BenchMate and myself.
While we have big hopes and dreams for the application, currently, the Foundation Toolkit exclusively integrates the Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel® XTU). The Foundation toolkit enables precise CPU performance tuning and caters to Intel K-SKU CPU users.
Currently, the application is publicly available for anyone to try. However, please be aware that the Foundation software currently offers limited functionality. The toolkit consists of four primary tools:
- Monitoring the system
- Simple overclocking with Intel Speed Optimizer
- Advanced overclocking with the Foundation OC knobs
- Running the Supermassive workload
On the Monitor page, you can find many system information charts detailing the current state of the P-core, E-core, and general CPU metrics. You can monitor the current operating frequency, voltage, temperature, and load for P-core and E-core. You can also monitor the CPU power consumption.
Let me get a little technical about each of these monitoring items:
- P-core Load returns the percentage of the P-core resources currently in use
- P-core Frequency returns the maximum frequency across all P-cores
- P-core Voltage returns the maximum voltage across all P-cores
- P-core Temperature returns the maximum voltage across all P-cores
- E-core Load returns the percentage of the E-core resources currently in use
- E-core Frequency returns the maximum frequency across all E-cores
- E-core Voltage returns the maximum voltage across all E-cores
- E-core Temperature returns the maximum voltage across all E-cores
- CPU Power returns the CPU package power, which includes the power used by all parts inside the CPU.
- Memory Frequency returns the memory frequency in MT/s (e.g., 8000 for DDR5-8000)
Note that the reported voltage is the CPU’s VID voltage request, not the measured voltage at the CPU die. The actual core voltage may impacted by various offsets and loadlines.
Intel Speed Optimizer
ISO stands for Intel Speed Optimizer, a performance-enhancing technology embedded in the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility software. Its primary purpose is to simplify overclocking. If your processor supports ISO, you can enable higher performance by clicking a single button.
At the moment of recording, ISO was not available for the Core i9-14900K. However, I did set up a system with the 13900K to show you how it works.
For your convenience, we also integrated a monitoring chart and a workload. The monitoring chart lets you check the current P-core and E-core frequency and temperature. The workload allows you to check the performance before and after enabling ISO.
Note that you cannot do manual tuning after enabling ISO. If you want to manually tune your CPU, you must first disable ISO.
The Tune page exposes the essential overclocking knobs for customizing your Intel processor performance. It is for more advanced tech enthusiasts, and thus, please proceed carefully. The warning at the top of the page is very much applicable for manual tuning.
You can adjust the CPU P-core and E-core frequency, set a CPU core global adaptive voltage, tune the Turbo Boost 2.0 power limits, and add an AVX2 ratio offset.
I will explain the technical side of these overclocking knobs when we get to overclocking the Intel Core i9-14900K processor in a minute or so.
On the workload page, you can find links to the four variants of the Supermassive workload: SSE2+, AVX, AVX2, and AVX-512. Clicking on the links will bring you to the workload-specific page.
The Supermassive workload uses gravitational raytracing to render a black hole according to Einstein’s General Relativity Theory. The workload extensively uses optimized Tensor math to calculate each pixel as fast as possible while utilizing all CPU cores.
On each page, you’ll find P-core, E-core, and CPU information, a button to start the workload, and a results chart to keep track of your progress.
Foundation Toolkit – Overclocking
Let’s now dig into how to use the Foundation Toolkit to overclock the Core i9-14900K processor. For this purpose, let’s first look at the overclocking knobs on the Tune page. These knobs are the essential tools you need to overclock your processor.
Foundation Toolkit – Overclocking Knobs
The Tune page provides eight overclocking tools: P-core Ratio, E-core Ratio, Core Voltage, Power Limit, and AVX2 offset. Let me get a little technical about each of these knobs.
P-core Ratio sets the all-core-active P-core Turbo Boost ratio as well each P-core’s Per Core Ratio Limit if it’s below the all-core ratio.
E-core Ratio sets the 1-active to 16-active E-core Turbo Boost ratio and each E-core group’s Per Core Ratio Limit. Effectively, you can think of this as an all-core fixed E-core ratio.
Core Voltage Mode lets you switch between adaptive or static voltage for the CPU cores. The default setting is Adaptive voltage mode and you cannot change it. However, configuring a manual Core Voltage unlocks Core Voltage Mode. After a page refresh, you can select between adaptive or static voltage mode.
Core Voltage sets the global CPU core voltage. It also sets each P-core and E-core Per Core voltage. Note that adaptive and static voltage modes function very differently. We’ll dig deeper into this topic when we start manual overclocking.
Sustained Power Limit sets the Turbo Boost 2.0 PL1, which is the parameter that governs the sustained power consumption limit. The CPU will automatically reduce its frequency if it runs too long over the power limit.
Temporary Power Limit sets the Turbo Boost 2.0 PL2, which is the parameter that governs the temporary power consumption limit. The CPU will automatically reduce its frequency if it runs too long over the power limit.
Core Current Limit sets the Turbo Boost 2.0 ICCMax, which is the parameter that governs the sustained core current limit. The CPU will automatically reduce its frequency if it runs too long over the current limit.
AVX2 Offset sets the AVX2 ratio offset. The offset applies to each core’s per core ratio limit and activates when there’s an AVX2 workload. On processors that support AVX-512 or AMX offset, adjusting the AVX2 offset will also change the AVX-512 and AMX offset.
Foundation Toolkit – Monitoring Information
On the Tune page, you can also find system information in dynamic text and an actual monitoring chart.
Intel Core i9-14900K Foundation Toolkit Overclocking Example
Let’s start overclocking. Let’s consider the default specifications of the Core i9-14900K processor.
Intel Core i9-14900K Default Specification
The default Turbo Boost 2.0 ratio configuration allows only two of the eight P-cores to boost to 6 GHz. These are the so-called favored cores. The other cores are limited to a maximum of 5.7 GHz. Furthermore, the two favored cores can only boost up to 6 GHz when up to two P-cores are active. When more than 2 P-cores are active, their frequency is also limited to 5.7 GHz.
Similarly, the E-cores have their ratio limits. Each of the four E-core clusters, containing four E-cores, is limited to 4.4 GHz. They will boost to 4.4 GHz in any scenario ranging from 1 active E-core to all 16 active E-cores.
One final important information related to the CPU frequency: the default AVX2 offset ratio is 0, and the AVX2 ratio offset applies to each core’s Per Core Ratio Limit
Next, the default Turbo Boost 2.0 power limit is 253W for both the sustained and temporary power limit. These are better known as PL1 and PL2.
I also extracted this CPU’s P-core and E-core V/F curves for educational purposes. The V/F curve is a per-core factory-fused voltage-frequency table that defines, for each core, the required voltage for a given CPU ratio.
In my case, the CPU has a P-core V/F curve that goes from 8X at 0.715V to 60X at 1.465V. The E-core V/F curve goes from 8X at 0.715V to 44X at 1.305V.
Raptor Lake CPU Core Voltage Mode
Next, we must cover the adaptive and static CPU voltage modes. Override mode specifies a single fixed voltage across all ratios. It is mainly used for extreme overclocking where stability at high frequencies is the only consideration. Adaptive mode is the standard mode of operation where the CPU relies on the CPU V/F curves to set the appropriate voltage.
Both voltage modes are configured using the CPU registers. That’s what we’ll do using the Foundation Toolkit.
In adaptive voltage, four important rules govern the CPU voltage.
One, the adaptive voltage is mapped against the “OC ratio.” The “OC Ratio” is the highest ratio configured for the CPU. When you leave everything at default, the default maximum turbo ratio determines the OC ratio. In the case of the 14900K, that ratio would be 60X. When you manually overclock, the OC ratio is the highest ratio you configure across all the various settings and options.
Two, the voltage set for a given ratio n must be higher than or equal to that set for ratio n-1. Suppose our 14900K runs 60X at 1.45V. In that case, setting the adaptive voltage, mapped to 60X, lower than 1.45V, is pointless. 60X will always run at 1.45V or higher.
Three, the adaptive voltage configured for any ratio below the maximum default turbo ratio will be ignored. Take the same example of the 14900K, specified to run 60X at 1.45V. If you try to configure all cores to 57X and set 1.20V, the CPU will ignore this because it has a factory-fused target voltage for all ratios up to 60X and will use this voltage. You can only change the voltage of the OC Ratio, which, as mentioned before, on the 14900K, is 60X and up.
Four, for ratios between the OC Ratio and the next highest factory-fused V/f point, the voltage is interpolated between the set adaptive and factory-fused voltage. Returning to our example of our 14900K specified to run 60X at 1.45V, let’s say we manually configure the OC ratio to be 65X at 1.55V. The target voltage for ratios 61X, 62X, 63X, and 64X is now interpolated between 1.45V and 1.55V.
The final important information is that the CPU P-cores, E-cores, and Ring share the same VccCore voltage rail. Effectively, it means that when the P-core runs 60X at 1.465V, it also runs the E-cores at 1.465V regardless of its frequency or V/F curve.
Now that we know how the Core i9-14900K works, we can start tuning the performance.
Intel Core i9-14900K Overclocking Example
First, let’s check the performance without any adjustments. The base performance with this Core i9 14900K is 13.71 seconds.
Then, as a first modification, we maximize the Turbo Boost 2.0 power limits by setting the sustained and temporary power limit to 4095 watts and Core Current Limit to 512 amps . That effectively maxes out the allowed power usage for the CPU. The resulting workload performance is now 12.70 seconds.
Then, I try setting the P-core ratio to 60X and the E-core ratio to 44X. That overclocks six of the eight P-cores from 5.7 GHz to 6.0 GHz and gets the frequency boost to 6 GHz even when all P-cores are active. However, we still rely on the CPU’s factory-fused voltages. The resulting workload performance is now 12.30 seconds.
Lastly, I try setting the P-core ratio to 61X, the E-core ratio to 46X, and the CPU global adaptive voltage to 1.475V. That overclocks all P-cores and E-cores and increases the operating voltage beyond the default specification. The resulting workload performance is now 12.12 seconds.
Foundation Toolkit – Dependencies
Before we wrap up this video and you go off trying the Foundation Toolkit yourself, I need to tell you about some essential dependencies to get the Foundation Toolkit to run.
Of course, you need hardware that supports overclocking. So, you need an Intel CPU and motherboard with overclocking support enabled. Foundation Toolkit has no official hardware support list yet, but we tried it on 13th and 14th-gen Core processors. Unofficially, the Foundation Toolkit should support 8th to 14th-gen Core processors, 7th to 10th-gen Core X processors, and 1st Xeon and 4th-gen Xeon processors.
In addition to the hardware requirements, you also need BIOS support. Three crucial settings need to be configured correctly. That includes:
- Disabling the Overclocking Lock
- Enabling the Overclocking Feature
- Enabling the Undervolt Protection
Generally, these settings will be configured by default on motherboards that support overclocking. If not, you may need to go into the BIOS to set them manually.
Lastly, some essential operating system settings must be configured appropriately to ensure you can install Foundation:
- Hyper-V must be disabled
- Core Isolation Memory Integrity must be disabled
- Virtual Machine Platform must be disabled
There are many guides available on the internet that will help you figure out how to get it set correctly.
Anyway, that’s all for today! I hope you enjoyed this video and may be eager to try the Foundation Toolkit on your system!
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See you next time!