More speed for free?
Overclocking and Stability Testing – Part 1
When using the Raspberry Pi 2 to run any sort of intensive software, which certainly includes emulating classic video games systems using RetroPie, you really need all the processing and graphical horsepower you can get. Luckily there’s more available under the bonnet of the Pi with a little tweaking.
Note: For additional considerations when overclocking the Raspberry Pi 3, please see Overclocking the Raspberry Pi 3: Thermal Limits and Optimising for Single vs Multicore Performance, in addition to the current post.
Topics Covered In Part 1
- Why Overclock?
- Raspberry Pi System Architecture
- Overclocking, Hardware Lifespan, and Your Raspberry Pi’s Warranty
- A Note On Overclocking and SD Card Stability
- Raspi-Config Overclock Options
- Editing Overclock Settings Within the Config.txt File
- Help! What To Do If The Pi No Longer Boots After Applying Overclock Changes
- Tested Overclock Values – Failures and Successes
Topics Covered In Parts 2, 3, and 4
- Stability Testing the Raspberry Pi
- MPrime – Multicore Testing
- MemTester – Single Core and Multicore Testing
- SD Card Stability Test Script
Overclocking the Pi is supported by tools provided with standard operating system distributions, such as Raspbian, and sanctioned by the manufacturer (with some caveats, as discusssed below). That said, the following details only my own research and experiences with a single Raspberry Pi 2 device; as always, your mileage may vary.
Assistance for those new to Linux
Making changes to the Overclock settings on the Pi, and testing the changes for stability, requires a little knowledge of the Linux command shell.
Please see my related posts for a basic guide which should help those new to Linux and/or Raspbian get started:
- Don’t Fear The Command Line: Raspbian Linux Shell Commands and Tools – Part 1
- Navigating the Raspberry Pi’s File System. Raspbian Linux Shell Commands and Tools – Part 2
Overclocking and Power – Use a Quality PSU
When overclocking it is worth ensuring that your Pi is serviced by a good quality Power Supply Unit (PSU), as this is often a point of failure. Not all micro usb supplies, or cables, are up to the task.
Please see my earlier post covering this topic here.
The Raspberry Pi 2, as with the predecessor Pi, can be setup to run faster than the default system, effectively giving extra processing and graphical capabilities for free. For retro gaming this can be critical, and is especially true of the N64 emulators, as well as when running more demanding PlayStation releases such as Gran Turismo 2.
Raspberry Pi System Architecture
The Raspberry Pi 2 contains a System on a Chip (SoC), which integrates a quad-core ARM CPU and a Broadcom VideoCore IV Graphics processing unit (GPU), alongside 1GB of SDRAM memory.