Nokia N900 gets 1GHz overclocking, no longer envious of Snapdragon

Over the last 36 hours or so, it seems as if I've been a bit preoccupied with a certain tablet that I just purchased. OK, it doesn't just seem that way, I literally just put the new gadget down after another marathon session. But not before I saw a comment from ben_UK in this other post, in which he mentioned an overclock for the Nokia N900 and got my attention.

Suddenly remembering that I also happen to own an N900 and had neglected the Maemo forums lately, I decided to hit up the overclocking thread that I had perused a few weeks back. Wow! In the span of a few days, the thread progressed from possibly finding an overclock that enabled a 10% increase, to one that gives nearly a whopping 70% increase to 1GHz.

As if the N900 needed further proof that it's arguably the most hackable smartphone out there, along comes this trick that boosts the ARM Cortex A8-powered Nokia right into the same rarified air of the 1GHz Snapdragon.

Currently, user Lehto has been the one supplying the updated kernels that must be flashed to activate the new turbo mode. There are various kernel speeds available for downloading, starting at a modest 700MHz, plus there are also some that overclock the DSP to 500MHz, as well. No matter which speed you decide to try, they are all underclocked to 125MHz at idle, which is half of the stock 250MHz and can probably help make up the difference in battery life. In the picture below, you can see the Conky process manager app reporting the speed and the processor load.

For now, Lehto is keeping the 1GHz kernel to himself until fellow N900 users get ample time to break-in their devices and test for any potential heat or artifacting issues, which so far have been close to nil. The Maemo5-powered handset is a powerful multitasking tool, but it won't do us any favors if it melts into an indistinguishable glob due to overheating.

According to the thread, the 1GHz kernel should be ready to release within the next week or so, and there is no guarantee that it will work on each and every N900 at the highest speed, due to tolerances that can differ from chip to chip during manufacturing.

I now have a new entry on my todo list for this week: "Turn my N900 into a pocket-friendly, Flash-browsing screamer"!

[ – Overclocking kernels]
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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.

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