Rapid Development: New Overclock for the Pre | webOS Nation

Rapid Development: New Overclock for the Pre

by Jonathan I Ezor#IM Mon, 15 Mar 2010 3:43 pm EDT


Some months ago, developers created and released a number of patches for the Pre that were meant to speed it up in various ways (known as CPU scaling and SmartReflex) beyond its standard 500 MHz processor speed. Unfortunately, the patches were somewhat unstable, and caused a number of users (myself included) to brick their Pres to the point of needing to run webOS Doctor and restore their Pres to factory status before they could be used. These patches were also incompatible with more recent updates to webOS, and are not recommended (as indicated by the “Dangerous” category into which they’ve been put in Preware).

Over the past couple of weeks, though, there have been a series of forum posts describing and demonstrating new methods for accelerating the Pre that seem to be much more stable than the earlier efforts.

UPDATE: caj208 has provided some important additional detail about the development effort and extensive testing process for these patches and scripts, which may address many potential users' concerns. Definitely read his comments below for the full scoop. If you're not following caj208's webOS development efforts, you really should be.


First, based upon the discovery that Palm was already speeding up the Pre to 600 MHz while running 3D games, [CORRECTION: unixpsycho developed and caj2008 assisted with the release of] a “simple patch” to the Luna GUI (graphic user interface) code that causes the Pre to run at a user-chosen 550 or 600 MHz at all times. Many (again including myself) have been testing this and found it to provide minor but noticeable speed increases, with an accompanying minor but noticeable hit to battery life when the Pre is in constant use (especially with data transfers), and stability has not suffered. (In fact, stability may be improved, since the Pre is no longer up- and down-shifting its speed as it moves between the 3D games and other software). Note that this is not “overclocking”, where a processor is made to run at a higher speed than it is designed for; in fact, Palm has generally underclocked the Pre’s CPU, which is rated for 600 MHz; this patch merely runs it at its full speed all the time. This patch will reportedly soon be available via Preware for even easier installation and removal.

Next, number1pete posted a series of commands that could be used to manipulate the Pre’s Linux cpufreq system to enable CPU scaling between 500 and 600 MHz, which he claimed was more stable than previous efforts. According to more recent posts in the forum, number1pete is working with the webOS Internals team to turn his innovation into an app that (once run) will change these settings until the next reboot. Additionally, for EVDO users, Cinnabarcorp provided instructions on settings which may increase data speeds.

For those users who want to push the envelope of both performance and potential long-term stability via actual overclocking, caj2008 and unixpsycho are demonstrating some exciting possibilities of 720 and even 800 MHz speeds for the Pre. In order to achieve these speeds, the team has to modify and optimize the webOS operating system kernel itself; since the kernel differs across webOS versions, there are separate patches being developed and tested for webOS and the newer 1.4. Given the previous problems with some of the speed-changing patches, as well as the added concerns about overclocking (including additional heat generation and power use), the team has been extensively evaluating this new kernel via a group of alpha and beta testers, who are collecting and publishing detailed data about boot & app launch times and other measurements with and without the overclocking operating. They have also posted a video demonstrating an 800 MHz Pre, to whet the appetites of users anxious for the superspeed performance it shows:

Kudos to the developers working on these innovations, the users testing them and providing feedback, and above all Palm itself for choosing to encourage rather than stifle innovation among both application developers and OS explorers, for the benefit of the entire webOS user community.