As PC enthusiasts, we often invest in expensive heatsinks, fans, and liquid coolers in an attempt to either overclock or achieve some peace and quiet. There's another dimension to the world of cooling, however, as David Kanter explains in his latest article over at Real World Technologies.
With papers and equations on hand, Kanter shows that high temperatures don't just cause overheating—they actually slow down transistors and increase power consumption. One paper published by Fujitsu about the SPARC64VIIIfx microprocessor says lowering the chip's silicon temperature from 85 to 30°C trimmed power consumption by 7W, which is equivalent to a whole extra CPU core running at 2GHz.
"Based on academic studies and real world examples," Kanter writes, "water cooling can easily improve performance by 5% and performance/watt by 15-20%." Kanter goes on to predict that 3D integration of chips will "take cooling requirements to the next level," so much so that the appeal of liquid cooling may eventually grow beyond the realm of enthusiasts and high-powered servers.
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