The PC turbo button and LED clock speed display were common features on early personal computers. Wanting to add a little retro chic to his modern battle-station, [Matthew Frost] assembled a charming and functional homage to the turbo button control panel.
In days past, this automotive nomenclature implied a performance boost when activated. Instead, ‘turbo mode’ would clock your x86 processor at its rated speed. Disabling ‘turbo’ would throttle the CPU, often all the way down to 4.77MHz. Inherited from the original IBM PC, some early computer programs relied on this specific clock speed, and would otherwise run too fast (or not at all) on faster hardware. PC marketing teams and engineers alike stopped including the turbo button and glowing clock speed numbers around the Pentium era.
This modern re-imagining of the turbo button uses an Arduino microcontroller, seven-segment display and tactile switches to emulate the look and feel of the original hardware. Instead of directly adjusting the CPU clock speed, hitting turbo switches between balanced and high-performance Windows power plans. The seven-segment display measures this clock speed in GHz to two decimal places. We’ll admit that it’s pretty satisfying to see those numbers inch higher when switching to turbo.
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