The Heat Is On . . .

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We noted in the previous article that Intel has apparently decided “to hell with the heat” and will push Prescott out the door.

XBitLabs talks a bit about a new generation of coolers meant to handle them.

Well, if a 4GHz Prescott is going to get close to 120 watts at default wattage, even relatively modest voltage increases (i.e., 10%) are going to push overclocked Prescotts to the 140 watt level (or a bit more).

More wild-ass attempts could push people into the 175+ wattage range. Just how much heat can that Prometeia handle?

Combine that with the relatively small size of Prescott (about 100 sq. mm, as opposed to 131 sq. mm for Northwood), and you have one hell of a cooling problem. More watts, less space. The wattage per sq.mm. for an overclocked Prescott will make the old AMD Thunderbirds look like refrigerators in comparison.

Fairly typical O/Cing Northwoods yields power dissipation roughly around one watt per sq.mm. The same sort of effort for Prescott will yield power dissipation more like one and a half watts per sq.mm.

So if you’re thinking about recycling your current air-blown cooler, well, it likely won’t be able to cut it. You’ll be asking it to do fifty percent more, and if it’s not handling the current job too well . . . .

Expect heat to be a major bottleneck in air-cooled overclocked Prescott systems, especially at the start. Eventually, we’re likely to see some more esoteric designs to handle the extra load, but it’s going to be rough.

It may well turn out that serious early Prescott overclocking will require at least water cooling

This is one area where the AMD picture looks considerable brighter. Seriously overclocked 130nm Hammers can chew up serious wattage, too, but the surface area of these chips is almost twice that of Prescott.

It will be interested to see if AMD runs into the same sort of problem Intel has faced when they go to 90nm. If they don’t and can get typical wattage reduction from the shrink, they will take a sizable advantage over Intel in what is an increasingly important area to many.

Ed

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