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Old 28th March, 2010, 08:22 PM
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Lenovo T61p fan control under Linux

I've been noticing for a while now that my CPU temps are rather high. Initially I thought it was because of dirt in the heat-sink, but after cleaning everything, that didn't resolve the issue. As it didn't seem to be affecting stability, I thought it might just be me being over-sensitive.

Well, my CPU temps started pushing 100C under load: even for a laptop, that's excessive. I'd also been noticing that my temps had been steadily climbing over the last year; they started out around 75C or so under full load (folding) and topped out at the 100C point that caused me to start getting really concerned.

Took everything apart again, pulled the heatsink (it's a convoluted heat-pipe affair that covers cpu, gpu, and chipset), cleaned off the old gunk (which had dried up and caked) and applied AS5.

Since the old gunk was dried and caked, I figured I'd found my problem. Well, I did and I didn't. My CPU temps were still running around 90C.

Got to doing some digging around. I don't know this for a fact, but I think somewhere along the line, Lenovo did a BIOS update that modified the fan controller so that it absolutely will NOT go above about 3000 RPM, no matter how hot the system gets.

Well, it turns out there is a way to override this. In my case, I have folding running all the time, meaning the CPU is under full load continuously. I really don't have a need for fan control.

So, here's what you need to do if you are in a similar fix:
  • make sure you have the thinkpad-acpi driver module installed. For most distros, this is done by default. If you have a kernel version less than 2.6.22 (which is positively ancient), stop, because the following is of no use to you. Then again, you probably wouldn't be reading this anyway, as I don't think you can even boot something that old on the T61p.
  • edit /etc/modprobe.conf, and add the following line:
    options thinkpad_acpi fan_control=1
    Note: modprobe.conf has been obsoleted by many distros and replaced with the directory /etc/modprobe.d. If this is the case for you, there should be some files in that directory. If there is one named 'options' or 'options.conf', then edit it and add the line above. If it doesn't exist, then look at the other files in the directory. If they all have extensions on them (like *.conf) then create a file named 'options'+extension (like options.conf). Otherwise just create a file named options. Add the line above to that file.
  • Reboot and execute the following two lines as the root user:
    cat 0 >/sys/devices/platform/thinkpad_hwmon/pwm1_enable
    cat 255 >/sys/devices/platform/thinkpad_hwmon/pwm1
After you've done the above, you should immediately see your fan speed start to increase to around 4500 rpm and stay there. My CPU temps dropped from 90C down to 75C. That's still toasty, but much better, and that's under full load.

Note that you'll have to set up a boot script to do this every time you reboot, because changes to the /sys file-system are not preserved across reboots.
Also note that the setting above (setting pwm1_enable to 0) completely disables fan control: the fan is turned on full-throttle and then ignored. You can set pwm1_enable to 1,and then set pwm1 to any value between 0 and 255 to control the fan speed, but 255 (maximum) still results in the fan topping out at about 3100 RPM, at least for me.

More info on the various commands and options available in the thinkpad_acpi module can be found here: http://ibm-acpi.sourceforge.net/README
Also, How to control fan speed - ThinkWiki contains some useful info on the thinkpad acpi fan interface.

Last edited by Gizmo; 29th March, 2010 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 30th March, 2010, 08:07 PM
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Great detective work, well done Gizmo!
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Old 27th May, 2010, 08:42 PM
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Are Lenovo laptops just as good as IBM's were?
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Old 27th May, 2010, 09:30 PM
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I can't speak from experience on the IBM laptops, but I've been extremely happy with this Lenovo lappy.

About the only real complaint I have with it is that for the price we paid (right at $3000), you'd think they would have put a bit better display in it. However, the display is more than adequate for my purposes, so that's more of the geek in me than anything that is complaining.
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Old 2nd June, 2010, 08:16 PM
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But if geeks didn't complain would the world of nerdishness ever improve?
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Old 3rd June, 2010, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cloasters View Post
Are Lenovo laptops just as good as IBM's were?
Having suffered with an IBM T30 which had a design flaw that caused memory sockets to end up non-functional, I'd hope that they're better than IBM's designs.
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Old 9th December, 2010, 09:25 PM
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Taking a laptop apart is no joke, they're scary, tbh.
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