Still Too Hot To Handle?

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Recently, there’s been two reviews of the new 65nm processors from Intel, both dual and single core.

The reviews were quite different, and done under different circumstances.

Nonetheless, they had one thing in common: the same weather forecasts: in the seventies. Seventies Celsius.

It’s eyebrow-raising to see a reviewer feeling pretty much proud of himself (and having reason to be) keeping the CPU temperature down to 75°C (that’s 167° for you Fahrenheit types). It’s harrowing to know that this is a considerable improvement over Prescott, but performance isn’t better (or even sometimes quite as good, especially on the dual core side) than a more tepid AMD chip.

Well, yes, it’s better, but it’s better like a knife in the lungs is better than one in the heart. You’ll probably live, but you don’t go looking for it, especially if you have to pay for the privilege.

Yes, you can get the temperatures down from that level with water or more, and the CPU’s evident hardiness at high temperature might make for some interesting results, but it’s one thing to use water to extend performance, and another to have to use water to get decent results.

Besides, most overclockers still use air (and Intel overclockers are more likely to just use the standard cooler than AMDers).

“He’s Almost Dead, Jim”

When Prescott came out, we took one quick look around, announced, “He’s dead, Jim” and that was that. Intel then proceded to make and sell a hundred million or so or them, but what was tolerable at default settings was unacceptable to the typical overclocker.

Some AMDroids complained that we didn’t frequently mutilate the corpse some more and drag it through the streets, but to us, we said the worst thing that could be said about a product.

We’re not quite ready to declare these chips that dead quite yet, though they’re definitely in the ICU unit, and the prognosis is not good.

The reason for the hesitancy is that we’re not sure yet how far these chips will go if you are willing to fuss a lot about them. AMD’s SOI chips get up to a pretty high level, but past that point, they don’t do a whole lot more no matter what you do with them.

These chips might prove an excellent reason to use thermosyphons, or water, or freeze units, provided these devices allow for rather higher overclocking increases than they do for AMD chips.

To give an example, if a water-cooled 65nm chip can only do, say, 4.5GHz, then we’ll do a McCoy. If it does rather better than 5GHz, well, maybe the life support will be worth it for some.

Are we particular optimistic about that? No, but it’s not quite time to price coffins yet.

Maybe the easiest way to judge this is to see what I do. I initially planned to buy one of these systems, with fairly low expectations, but those temperatures put those plans on hold. Unless I see some pretty impressive results with moderate extra care, I won’t buy it, and if I wouldn’t, why should you?

Ed


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