Friday, August 4, 2017

An interesting scope trace

Ch1 Voltage, Ch2 Current (20mV/A)

While debugging a laptop the other day I had a chance to throw a hall effect current probe on the DC input while it was running a game (NieR: Automata, just kind of chillin' around in the Resistance Camp). The trace is rather interesting - my interpretation is that there is that there some relatively low-power setup (the short dips to 6A on the cyan current trace), followed 8mS of lower-power GPU work (that has to be the GPU kicking in, the CPU (i7-4800MQ) can't possibly get close to 190W!), and 8mS of higher, but variable, GPU load.

Knowing Automata's rendering pipeline (which involves a lengthy, and costly, GI step), I would venture to say the 10A phase is the global lighting computation (which should, on a 200KHz current probe, appear to draw constant power), and the highly variable phase is generates the actual frame (the different power draws correspond to different stages and/or tricks involved in lighting the final image).

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