The future of heat dissipation

Work finally dropped in intensity a bit, so I got to spend today a problem that’s been annoying me for months: my Inspiron 9100 is a noisy furnace whenever I play games on it.

  1. It’s be a minor industrial design project to upgrade or replace the fans.
  2. The cooling system is about as good as it’s going to get for air, otherwise; copper heatpipes and whatnot.
  3. Turns out the problem is that fucking Intel processors are stupidly inefficient.

I had a 3.2 Prescott ghz in there, and even with the fans blowing at my-god-that’s-annoying level, the stupid thing would hover around 70C. Swapped with my desktop’s 2.4 Northwood, and the temperature is now 60C & stable. Only 10% slower too, strangely.

So, questions:

  • What the hell is going on with heat in CPUs? Poking around the web on this, it looks like future intel processors are going to be in the 130W range. Have we hit an engineering limit?
  • What’s the near-term future of speed upgrades look like? Multiple cores, because they’ve got all they can out of one?
  • Is commodity-level water cooling the big thing I think it’s going to be? Or maybe turn the entire case into a heat exchanger, I dunno.

I’m reminded of the matter compilers in The Diamond Age…

This is why Dell’s next gen XPS laptop will use Dothan instead of mobile Penitum 4. It will be lighter, cooler and run just as fast. The 130W CPUs will be the purview of desktop PCs for the time being.

I don’t see how the desktops are going to handle something that nasty either, though. And in 5 years maybe they’ll just use the house PC as the furnace.

There was an article on Anandtech about the failure of the P4 archetecture; basically, it tried to so some advanced things but compromises in the design made it necessary to “run twice as fast” as it would have had to otherwise. And then goes on to conclude that that particular design route for cpus was a dead end.

Now this is a problem. I have to run my comp with my case open in order to cool my 6600GT. I even propped an 80mm fan up just to blow on it. Otherwise it became dreadfully unstable. Even now it runs 66-70’C with all these adjustments.

The biggest structural problem about dealing with heat is actually case design, heat exchange and airflow. Right now, essentially, there is none on average. At best, just ‘cut a fan hole’ in some random place where they guess there should be one.

Cases really should cost 2-3x what they do now, but integrate heat exhange materials, dust filters, ect, all sorts of higher end ideas that are become more essential to proper function.

Try this one - likely my next case (already have a PC-60USB case):