Attack of the flaming laptops
No, this is nothing as dramatic as the PowerBook 5300 incident, but EE Times has an interesting article that explores the power consumption and heat issues that makers of laptop processors will face, along with possible solutions to those problems.
Mobile-processor suppliers say they are prepared to accept the challenge, which is expected to arise with the advent of 5GHz chips that consist of 300 million or more transistors and are manufactured on 90nm-and-finer linewidths. Among the array of solutions are techniques like clock gating, dynamic frequency scaling, new IC packaging, and the use of larger on-chip caches that designers say will allow CPUs to consume a respectable 3W of power or less through 2004.
I'm a little puzzled at the talk of dynamic frequency scaling; the article makes it sound like this is a far-off thing that still needs more research, but I was under the impression that AMD was already doing this with their Power Now! technology
. Of course, the article is also talking about dynamically adjusting voltage as well, so perhaps they're talking about a much wider scale than the AMD stuff.
Regardless, it's an interesting read, and one has to wonder if some of this technology might make its way into desktop chips as well, if only to help with heat dissipation issues.