CPU 1436

Got this message after writing the Homo Mobilis article:

You are clearly writing the epitaph for Overclockers.com. If, as you say, desktops are doomed, then so is Overclockers.com.

Laptops are extremely limited in their upgradeability due to the physical form that they take. You can’t put a big HSF on the cpu. Water cooling or other forms of extreme cooling are out. The RAM is crammed into a tiny compartment that has little room for heatsinks to be added. And, any significant modifications can reduce reliability significantly.

Have you refreshed your resume recently?

It’s not an unreasonable question, but how likely is it to be true?

I think rumors of our deaths (and I will speak about overclocking in general) are likely to be greatly exaggerated for the following reasons:

This is evolution, not revolution We are still in the early stages of this transformation. It will probably take five-ten years for portable devices to become the norm.

Overclocking was, is, and always will be a fringe activity The vast majority of current PC owners do not overclock their machines, never have, never will. Yet we are still here. How come? There are so many PCs in the world that even something which only attract a tiny percentage of them is a market worth exploring. Call it the 1% rule. When 1% of the population wants to do X with Y, someone will want to satisfy that market once the population gets big enough. This will continue to be true.

What will be different is that the center of gravity for overclocking will shift from big to little boxes, and new overclocking products will become available as the numbers for the little boxes increase. In some ways, it will be harder, in some ways easier because . . . .

We’ll be cooling cold processors The real problem with the email is that it doesn’t take into account how different the CPUs of tomorrow are going to be. As tinyPCs appear, the cooling requirements for them will become tiny, too. We won’t be trying to cool 150 watts, or 15, or maybe not even 1.5 watts in these tiny devices in a few years. Yes, the tiny spaces will make cooling more difficult, but there will be a lot less to cool and we may well find we don’t have to do anything at all. Ideally, these tiny CPUs won’t require active cooling at all, and really, how much overheating can a one-watt processor possibly cause?

I think we are likely to find that, just as a considerable number of people can overclock desktops a bit with strictly stock machines, these tinyPCs will have more than a bit of overclocking headroom, too.

The last few years, if anything, the potential overclocking market has been expanding as folks have figured out how to modestly overclock OEM machine using just software. This method of overclocking will become even more popular with the tinyPCs.

The DIYers will come We have long had DIYer desktops. We now have DIYer notebooks, and will have more of them as designs become more standardized. There’s no reason to think that there won’t be DIYer smartphones or whatevers after the new form factors have been established and standardized.

The old PC world is dying. The new one is still gestating. The next five-ten years are going to be really traumatic to the old dinosaurs, and there’s going to be a lot of casualties throughout.

However, there’s no reason to think that overclocking as an activity will perish; old ways will surely wither away, but new ones are sure to be be born to replace them.


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