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How much does heat decrease hardware performance due to resistance?


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#1 Taoki

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 04:47 PM

Today I had the pleasure of seeing a documentary about electrical current. Among many things, it offered a description on electricity flow and resistance. Resistance causes a conductive object to heat up and in the process, transfer electricity more slowly.

 

It's known that computer hardware heating is bad because it reduces the life time of components and they risk burning if not cooled properly. But this raised another question for me: Do heated circuits decrease performance by any noticeable amount due to resistance? For example, is a hot CPU slower and could result in visible lag and longer loading times of programs?

 

If anything I assume it would be a matter of miliseconds, since electricity doesn't travel that far throughout a PC. Then again, there are a lot of components that work on the principle of syncronization. If a signal gets there a milisecond later, it could cause other hardware to have to wait a few miliseconds more. Heat and resistence could make a difference there.

 

Were any benchmarks done for CPU's, memories, video cards and chipsets in this sense? And are there any certain facts on how much heat decreases performance? Personally I never got this impression, and my computer works as fast during winter (when my room is rather cold) and during summer when it's painfully hot, as far as I can tell.


Edited by Taoki, 20 June 2013 - 04:48 PM.


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#2 dpunisher

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 05:58 PM

Increasing heat increases resistance.  Resistance has nothing to do with the speed of electron flow, but does have an effect on amperage (V=IR).

 

Long story short, unless the temperature of a component reaches high enough to cause it to "throttle", temp is a non factor in actual speed. 4.0ghz at 100C is the same as 4.0ghz at 0C. Now as far as longevity, that's another ball of wax.  With silicon and metallic processors, temp deltas and quantity of heat/cool cycles are the main factor.  

 

Electromigration is a factor to.  More voltage=shorter lifespan.  Hotter processors sometimes need more voltage to operate properly.  For a transistor gate to function you need a minimum voltage.  If temp goes up, resistance goes up, and the supply voltage has to increase to maintain gate function.  More voltage=more net current through the processor as all gates are not equal.  Vicious cycle.  More amperage/voltage= quicker gate degradation which requires more voltage to operate which increases current/heat.............................................


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#3 Taoki

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Posted 14 July 2013 - 06:20 PM

Sorry for the late reply, and thanks for the info. That makes sense... although I expected that in some cases resistence could play a role (even for long internet cables).

 

Indirectly at least, I guess heat does affect performance. Since the more you can cool a component the further you can overclock it. But that's an user choice and unrelated to resistence in the same sense. If it was possible to create a CPU made of a superconductor material, I assume that would allow you to overclock it as far as the electricity in your outlet allows (maybe even thousands of times than default frequencies we have now) without needing any fans or cooling system in the slightest. Maybe that day will eventually come :)


Edited by Taoki, 14 July 2013 - 06:21 PM.





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