A Couple Random Thoughts About Quadcore . . .

Four Lit Matches To Cool

Yes, both AMD and Intel are trying hard to keep these multicores more or less within current power consumption totals. Yes, 65nm (and then 45nm) downsizing will do a lot to reduce power consumption.

But what about us? Now we’re going to have to have four of these things to worry about cooling.

Just for an example: if you have each core chewing up 30 watts default, and you have four of them, you have to have a cooling system that will handle 120 watts max.

That may not be too terribly frightening, but if you’re overclocking, that 30 watts could turn into 50 or maybe even 60 pretty quickly. Now we’re talking about 200-240 watts max cooling, and air hasn’t gotten better.

You may say, “Quadcores aren’t likely to be blazing away at max too often,” in which case one might question the need for four, but that raises another issue:

Uneven Heating, Uneven Use

If you have a couple cores running hot, and a couple running not, what does that kind of uneven heating do to heat spreading, and eventually, the heat spreader and CPU(s)?

Along the same lines, will quadcores have any load-leveling so that each of the four will get used about the same? If you’re gunning two cores most of the time, and two are asleep most of the time, wouldn’t the active ones die sooner than the Sleeping Beauties?

And if one just happens to die, what then? Could three (or at least two) carry on? What if one of those cores is some Fusion graphics core? Obviously, video has to come from somewhere else, but could it come from somewhere else if the GPU part of the CPU is broken?

None of this is likely to be any big deal for those with Dell boxes, but then again Prescotts weren’t that big a deal for those boxes, either. What may work fine in those setups might get a little haywire in systems pushed in both clock speed and general use.

Just Issues, Folks

This article isn’t meant to say that quadcores are no good, or even that the items I mentioned are definite problems, or issues.

Instead, as we move into a new CPU era, new issues are likely to arise, and overclockers are likely to be more on the cutting edge in the next few than the past few years, especially given the “low power over high speed” bias .


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