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Pushing a CPU to Heat Death, Intentionally 291

sdougal writes "This site is showing a Pico-ITX board running Ubuntu with no cooling whatsoever. They even let the public guess how long it would last: 'Last week thousands of you placed bets on how long the new Pico-ITX board from VIA, the VIA EPIA PX5000EG, can last without any cooling whatsoever. An ARTiGO Builder Kit was offered as the grand prize. Yesterday afternoon the voting stopped and the Naked Pico Challenge started in earnest. We simply loaded up Ubuntu 8.04, set it to work playing an mpeg-4 video and then removed the heatsink, leaving the CPU and VX700 chipset bare to the world. We recorded the event here in this video and set up a live video stream so you punters can keep a watchful eye on the PX5000EG as it works away.'"
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Pushing a CPU to Heat Death, Intentionally

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:29AM (#23504988)
    Anyone remember Patrick Norton frying that CPU on "The Screen Savers []" back in the TechTV days? Patrick and Leo were building their annual "Ultimate Gaming Machine" (using all the best components available at the time) and his Nortoness forgets to put the heatsink on the CPU. They turn it on, and within minutes, they smell something burning. They had just fried one of the most expensive CPU's you could buy at the time, right there in front of God and the nation.

    It was an expensive lesson in the importance of the heatsink.

    Of course, many of us can remember back when CPU's didn't even need heatsinks. My first build was a 486SX with a zif chip slot and no CPU cooling--hard to believe now.

    • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:39AM (#23505190)
      I was at one of the audience tapings for 'TSS' in san francisco, a few years ago. very sad to see the show leave, taking all that good geek (true geek) talent with it.

      I once sent an amd k8 system to a friend in the mail. I made the mistake of leaving the big heatsink (I think it was a barton chip and those were VERY hot back in the day) attached. the pc was sent ground, I think, and so it didn't get the best treatment. turns out that the heatsink came off the cpu socket and was doing some kind of 'round the world tour' inside the pc case! when he opened it up, there were ding marks from the sharp edges of the heatsink all over the mobo ;(

      that was bad. but it gets worse. my 'genius friend' decided to just try it as it was and not even bother to fix the heatsink back to the chip!

      I think in 5-10 secs, he -guaranteed- that that system will never run again. I would have liked to know if the mobo was still working - but now, the whole thing is toast.

      he didn't know? really? a BIG HUGE HONKING heatsink and he thinks he can turn on a system without it?


      now, that was years ago. today with the core2 arch, you almost don't NEED a heatsink. its amazing. I have overclocked core2 chips (see 'BSEL mod' for changing 800fsb to 1066fsb via some conductive paint) and STILL the chip is cold to the touch when I run memtest86. my bsel mod photos are here, btw: []

      its now my usual procedure to install a fan speed control and set it to MIN for all my core2 systems that I build. I love the fact that even at slowest rpm, it still never gets hot enough to even pull your hand away from the hs/fan. amazing..

      I also do have a via epia that I use for my mythtv box: [] []

      in that 2nd photo, you can see its drawing 24watts (with a kill-a-watt lcd meter). its 100% fanless, uses a 1ghz cpu but it DOES get quite hot to the touch so I leave the top case skin off; that way I can get by with no fan at all. its been doing my myth-tv recording (using hdhomerun HD tuner box, networked) for about half a year now; no reboots and very reliable.

      low power systems are cool ;)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sm62704 ( 957197 )
        I've had two CPUs die from heat death when their cooling fans became clogged with dust, cat hair and pot smoke. The latest box's motherboard has a thermometer hooked up so if it reaches a certain temperature the power will shut off.

        It's gotten flakey lately when booting to Windows (although it boots to Linux flawlessly. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing to say about the respective OSes). The default is Windows, and it would reboot continually until Windows finally "caught" (unless I told LILO to g
        • I work as a technician, and I've seen a fair number of power supply deaths, including one truly bizarre power supply that failed in such a way that it now kills motherboards. Usually they're either old or crappy, usually both.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by hairyfeet ( 841228 )
            I have found that if a customer has roaches for some reason the little buggers will always go for the PSU and cause it to die in a quite spectacular fashion. I was actually at a customers home setting up his wireless network when I got to witness his desktop go first hand. It really was amazing. The PSU set off a huge spark along with an extremely loud BOOM which caused me to jump back. Luckily when this is the case usually it just kills the PSU without smoking the board. So now I keep a couple of the ultra
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Eg0Death ( 1282452 )
          You've never seen a power supply die in 25 years?! Wow! That seems to be one of the most common causes of PC "death" I see. I bought a $20 test device to confirm the deadness of PSUs.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I bought a $20 test device to confirm the deadness of PSUs.
            Wow, why? I use a (basically) free paper clip. Connect one end of the paper clip to the green wire, and the other end to any black wire (ground) and press the power button... if it doesnt power up, means it is dead, if it does power up it is most likely fine
            • I built a liquid cooled system a few years back. As part of the kit they included a little jumper cable to power up the PSU with the cooling system in place before you put in the mobo and other parts (such that you can test for leaks and whatnot). It's basically just a 2" piece of wire with a prong on each end to plug into the PSU connector. I've used that little wire for testing PSUs more times than I can remember.

              Using that in addition to a multimeter (something you probably already have if you tiker)
            • the new lcd PS testers are pretty cool. get one. they test for in-tolerance voltages and ARE quite nifty to have around.

              when building a $200+ system (ie, ANY system) it pays to test the new PS with this $20 device first. why just TRUST the ps? a lot of them are even shipped bad.

              invest in the $20 device, test each PS before you connect it to the mobo and you won't end up sacrificing your brand new mobo just to learn that sometimes, vendors do ship DOA PS units or ones that are not in tolerance on some of
            • by baggins2001 ( 697667 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @03:15PM (#23509678)
              I usually just put my tongue across the 26 connectors and turn the power on. If my penis doesn't tingle then the power supply is bad.
        • by frosty_tsm ( 933163 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @11:56AM (#23506480)

          I've had two CPUs die from heat death when their cooling fans became clogged with dust, cat hair and pot smoke.
          I'm not sure if this story should result in a LOL-cat or a computer-shaped bong...
        • by Feanturi ( 99866 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:20PM (#23506854)
          I've seen a few power supply deaths, in which case two of the systems had been working fine right up until the last time they were turned off. One of them had a bad switch (old AT) which made it difficult to turn the system on, so the user had stopped turning it off altogether, for about a year. Then I needed to install a network card in their system so of course had to turn it off. It never powered up again after that, once the system had cooled, rewiring the switch didn't change anything, and the PSU needed to be replaced. Temperature change killed it.

          Another one was one of my own, that was near a window, and that side of the room got very cold in the winter. My systems always run 24/7 because this way the internal temperature stays somewhat consistant, avoiding chip creep and spreading solder joints. But then one day, when it was particularly cold out and so also very cold in that corner, I wanted to move another hard drive into it. At first it powered back up for about 30 seconds then shut down. Tried starting it several times but each time the running interval got shorter, until finally, it just wouldn't turn on at all. Replaced PSU and all was fine. Temperature change killed it.

          A third one, this time the one in my gaming rig, developed its problem while in use. I was playing Oblivion or something intensive like that, and it was summer, very hot outside and in - my apartment is very poorly insulated as you may have guessed by now. The system started shutting down about every half hour, so after a couple instances of that I stopped playing, but later in the evening when things had cooled down, it was still doing it. Replaced the PSU and it ran fine after that. Temperature killed it.

          Quite a few hardware failures I've encountered, CPUs, hard drives, video cards, whether my own or friends or work-related, I've been able to blame on temperature one way or another.
        • Have any of you lost the power supply in a PC?

          quite a few times. the last few were due to the 'chinese capacitor' problem (they blew their fillings). search and you'll find examples of where the caps started to expand and break their 'plus sign' seals on the top of their cans. I've had a netgear switch and 2 motherboards suffer the 'blown chinese cap' problem. once you have seen what a good and a blown capacitor looks like, its just simple visual inspection. and often, you can unsolder the old one and
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by flibuste ( 523578 )
          Check your motherboard. If capacitors look bumped anormaly, your motherboard is dying slowly and is the root cause of your problem. I have experienced those exact symptoms recently, and bought a power supply for nothing...
        • And I've had my both of my pumps in my water cooling loop die at the same time (they where shitty Thermaltake Bigwater ones) on a P3 1.2GHz Tualatin based home file server.

          Still as it was unattended, the sever was left on the whole afternoon. I only realised it wasn't responding in the evening. The power was still on.

          The heat of the processor evaporated the cooling liquid, and melted the plexi top of the CPU block.
          And I still burned my finger when detaching the remaining copper block from the CPU even after
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by bhtooefr ( 649901 )
            Actually, the newer CPUs will handle it BETTER than that P3 did.

            Anything older than that P3 would have cooked. That P3 went into a frozen state to save itself. The P4 and newer underclock themselves until they're running cool enough, and freeze if that's still not cool enough.
        • by Lord Apathy ( 584315 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @03:23PM (#23509782)

          Have any of you lost the power supply in a PC?

          One morning I woke up and noticed my computer was off. I never turn my computer off. So I did what came natural, I turned the fucker back on. The powersupply blew the fuck up! I mean Boom! There was smoke billowing out the side and flame shooting out the fan port. The fucking fan in the power suppy was on fire! It was cool as fucking hell!

          Fried everything in the damn computer but the CPU, memory, and graphics card. Harddrives, cdroms, tapedrive, ethernet/sound card, MB.. Gone. The only thing I can think of is it fried everything on the +5/+12V connection and since the surviving parts where 3V they lived. That is the best I can come up with.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by billcopc ( 196330 )
        Perhaps I'm expecting too much here, but I'm not at all impressed by a 24-watt power draw, considering the inflated price of mATX components.

        The average entry-level Intel-based desktops I sell, they eat 50 watts. They don't run fanless, but they are effectively noiseless beyond a foot. This is for a 2ghz Core-2 with 2gb ram and a SATA hard drive. Considering the Intel puts out at least twice as much performance as the Via, plus the second core.

        I have yet to put them to work as servers and media centers,
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          your numbers are way off. way way off.

          I regularly use that kill-a-watt meter on my home made pc's. I tend to build in the order of 10 pc's a year (just personal use; yes, I'm a member of hardware-anonymous but I stopped going to meetings.)

          most minimal pc's (non gaming, like business 'web' pc's) tend to boot up at about 100w and lower down to 75w when the disk parks and when its in speedstep (etc) style mode.

          I've not once seen any kind of low end pc get anything even close to 50w or less.

          also note the via
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sootman ( 158191 )
        he didn't know? really? a BIG HUGE HONKING heatsink and he thinks he can turn on a system without it?

        Not as dramatic but equally dumb: a friend had a small-form-factor Compaq Deskpro. Very tight little case. Shipped with a PIII/500 but he bought it used with no CPU. He decided to upgrade to a PIII/800. He bought one that was for a regular Deskpro and of course it didn't fit--so he used a Dremel to grind away almost half of the heatsink. Let's see... more-powerful chip, smaller heatsink, small case with limi
    • A former cow-orker did something daft like that with an AMD around the early Duron/Athlon days.
      He connected an 800MHz Athlon without the heatsink. Four seconds after the power was switched on,
      he had a nice, big hole where the CPU was. I would have loved the pictures of that :)
      • I ordered a Tunderbird 900mhz when they were "the big thing." The guy who was building it fried 6 CPUs and 4 motherboards before he figured out that it wasn't a good idea to bench-test them without a cpu fan. Helps to read the instructions ...

        Another guy (who builds systems "on the side") asked me about one that he similarly toasted - it would boot, but wouldn't run Windows. I told him that he now had a very expensive dos-box, and to enjoy running the original Doom at 1.2 ghz.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) *

          I ordered a Tunderbird 900mhz when they were "the big thing." The guy who was building it fried 6 CPUs and 4 motherboards before he figured out that it wasn't a good idea to bench-test them without a cpu fan.

          I built myself a 500MHz Athlon system back when they first came out, and a few years later I happened to have the case open and noticed that I had never plugged the fan in!

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Vancorps ( 746090 )
            I originally ran my 500mhz Athlon as well, after a few years the fan stopped working and I never noticed until a friend had a 650mhz that he wasn't using anymore and gave it to me. I used that 650 until last year and it still works great!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        How do you 'ork' a cow? And is it legal in your state or country?
    • They turn it on, and within minutes, they smell something burning.

      The better one was the Tom's Hardware one where they tested an AMD chip and Intel chip by removing the heatsink on a running game. This was right after Intel came out wiht the Speed Step tech stuff that everyone scoffed as it would slow down the processor. It slowed down all right, but didn't fry in a second like the AMD chip did.

      I would love to see a repeat test with the low power chip line-up. The 1 watt VIA processor against the new 4 w
  • by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:32AM (#23505044)
    The rule of thumb among engineers is: One square inch of flat aluminum surface will dissipate one watt at room temperature and rise about 20 degrees Farenheit.

    A CPU chip with 900+ pins run a bit cooler as it's a it more than one square inch if you an include the substrate, and a certain percentage of the heat will conduct itself down the pins.

    • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) * on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:42AM (#23505226) Homepage Journal
      I predict a lot shorter now that the page with the video is linked on the Slashdot front page.! ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      You don't need to know how thick it is? 'cause I guarantee this won't work with aluminum foil for example.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:42PM (#23507182)
        the formula for convective heat transfer (transfering heat from the surface of the heatsink to the air) doesn't involve thickness. A very thinly-sliced 12"x12" sheet of aluminum, uniformly heated to 200F, will transfer just about as much heat/second to the air as a thick plate of 12"x12"aluminum @200F will (there will be some differences, because the plate has a *bit* more surface area, but I digress...)

        However, CONDUCTIVE heat transfer (getting the heat to go from the "hot" end of the heat sink to the tip of the fin) is directly proportional to surface area. This means that, were you to use a single sheet of aluminum foil as a "fin" on your heatsink, you would not be able to get the heat to actually travel effectively to the tip of the fin where it could be removed via convection. Thus you'd wind up with a very hot "hot" end of the heatsink (near the chip, which does you no good), and a cool "cold" end of the fin (which is worthless, as convective heat transfer is proportional to the difference between the surface temp and the air temp). If you were to instead use a thick sheet of aluminum as your "fin", that would allow the heat to easily travel from the "hot" end to the tip of the fin, where the air could take it away.

        However, you can get the best of both worlds by using multiple thinly-sliced sheets of aluminum. Same cross-sectional area as the thick slice (for good conduction), and maximum surface area (for convection). Which is exactly what most heatsinks look like.
  • The video (Score:5, Funny)

    by nawcom ( 941663 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:35AM (#23505094) Homepage
    They should make the mp4 hours of video of hardcore pornography, and we can all make bets on what the final frame that it shows before locking up and shutting down will be about. Blowjobs, anal, AtM, Bukkake, fem domination, tentacle sex, etc. It will bring more people to RTFA and WTFS (Watch The Fucking Stream).
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:36AM (#23505120)
    slashvertisement. There I said it.

    VIA showing off their board, offering a VIA-equipped toy to someone, disguising the entire thing as a geek event and plastering it on geeky sites. Gee, that sure is great news for nerds, stuff that (doesn't) matter...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ekimminau ( 775300 )
      Put a micro camera inside the case and close it up so it gets no air circulation.
      Here we have the new ABC corp multi-Quad core CPU, over clocked to 50X standard. We are going to remove the heat sink and see how long it will last here in the absolute zero room with the case wide open and all the fans turned off.
      Yes, this is a flame bait to the vendor in question but just how worthy is it to say an "ultra low voltage" cpu/motherboard can survive in a open office cooled to ~68 degrees F. with an open case
    • But will it blend? []
  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:36AM (#23505122)
    They've been doing this with aircooled VW engines for probably 50 years at shows and races. Pull the fan belt, drain the oil, and put a brick on the accelerator. Everyone pays a buck to bet on the time, and with any luck the engine explodes spectacularly, much to the crowd's pleasure.

    Yet again, "on the internet" somehow makes it original...
  • by SD-Arcadia ( 1146999 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:39AM (#23505180) Homepage
    If a CPU is going to crash or go up in smoke after heatsink removal under load it will do so within 30 seconds. Since it hasn't done so yet and considering it's a 1W energy efficient CPU the only effect should be a reduction in its longterm lifespan (maybe it will only run 2 years rather than 8). I don't see the excitement here, until they take a hairdryer to it which they say they will do after two weeks. That should be interesting.
  • A server with all heat sinks removed, and then linked to on the front page of Slashdot. ;nspb Will it melt?
  • by Anna Merikin ( 529843 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:44AM (#23505258) Journal

    Like the ole Timex watch that "took a licking and kept on ticking" my desktop box, an ancient AMD Sempron 2600+ with a VIA chipset, unknown to me, lost its power connector to the CPU fan, which I only discovered by accident when replacing a hard disk drive. The CPU was hot enough to scald my finger, but neither its performance nor its stability has suffered one bit.

    Of course, the heatsink was still connected. But the Sempron was IIRC most definitely NOT a low-power cpu.

    Yes, I reconnected the CPU fan. But at least I know my sh*t can take the heat.

    No video is available ;o{ .

    • by AdamWill ( 604569 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @11:15AM (#23505726) Homepage
      That's because of a rather famous incident with the *previous* generation of AMD chips.

      Intel had recently introduced an overheat sensor into their CPUs. They still have them, I think. There's basically a thermal probe included in the CPU packaging, and if the temperature goes over a certain critical level, the CPU starts throttling itself down, until the temperature goes down to a safer level.

      Tom's Hardware (probably being paid by Intel...) did a video experiment on this. They got an Intel (early P4, IIRC) and a then-current-gen Athlon, started them both playing Quake 3, then removed the HSF.

      The Intel chip promptly throttled itself down to 400MHz or so, and kept running the game (rather slowly). The Athlon crashed, hit something like 200-300 degrees C, and burned a little hole in the motherboard.

      After that little stunt, AMD started building overheat sensors into their CPUs quite fast.

      I saw this in action on one of my own machines, a Shuttle SN62K, a couple of years back. That machine has a known issue with the motherboard fan headers dying after about a year of use. It's also a very quiet system. I was using a 2.4GHz Celeron in it at the time. The fan header died and the fan (only fan in the machine, if you know Shuttles) stopped working. The CPU throttled itself down to 800MHz and kept right on going, for two weeks, before I actually noticed.

      • Not to prolong a rather meaningless thread (blush) but I was surprised by the box continuing to run this way as I was led to believe that were the HS-fan to become disconnected from the header, the box would shut itself down. I did *not* notice any throttling of speed, but I didn't obtain any data, just my feeling about the puter not having lost any responsiveness nor general slowness. (Running MEPIS-GNU-Linux 6.01)

        The sides are always left off the case, but there is no other fan installed.

        N.B. I had a

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Zadaz ( 950521 )
        Reading the summary I thought "If this is a publicity stunt, it's backfiring". It's freaking 2008, a cpu shouldn't be able to cook it's self. If it can, I'm not buying.

          Last week the fan on my laptop failed (Intel Celeron). It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out why the thing was suddenly running so slow (It runs quiet anyway). But it still ran. It ended up running for a day and half straight, under load, with no fan. Replaced the fan, all is good.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The CPU was hot enough to scald my finger

      Really? The CPU got so hot it went into a liquid or gaseous form? (You can't scald yourself on something solid.)
  • I really doubt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:46AM (#23505300)
    that this is an experiment. They already know that the device will run indefinitely. No company would do a media event like this that would shed bad publicity on their product- except Microsoft, LOL.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      No company would do a media event like this that would shed bad publicity on their product- except Microsoft, LOL.

      How about Sony and their rootkit? What about SCO and their Linux licenses? What about the RIAA and their lawsuits against computer-illiterate grandmothers, twelve year olds, and dead people?

      What about Fox and American Idol?
  • "Heat Death" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ObjetDart ( 700355 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:48AM (#23505312)
    Sorry to nitpick, but doesn't the term "heat death" usually mean death by maximum entropy (i.e. no heat), and not death by heat?
  • by Toreo asesino ( 951231 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:49AM (#23505328) Journal
    We had a headless linux server that one day started beeping constantly for no apparent reason. With every intention on fixing it, after a couple of weeks of it still running ok, we just assumed the speaker had died so just ignored it (the server room being sealed away as it was). Then one day we had to move the servers to another room, went to pick the machine up, and "Jesus! This thing is boiling!".

    It was some ancient AMD chip that we literally couldn't buy new fans for any more, so we just snipped the speaker cable and let it carry on.

    Naturally, the Linux guys claimed if it had been Windows, we'd be looking at a dead server at this point in time :)
    • Why not just buy a similar sized fan, or even a completely different heatsink/fan arrangement of approximately the right size? :P Surely it would be better to bodge on some kind of cooling than just leave it..
    • by Cecil ( 37810 )
      I've got an Athlon 900 server that's been running for around 8 years at a constant CPU temperature of 90-95 Celsius at idle. Still trucking away just fine. They were amazingly hot chips, but they seem to handle it okay.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by egomaniac ( 105476 )
      Naturally, the Linux guys claimed if it had been Windows, we'd be looking at a dead server at this point in time :)

      Nonsense. Every OS makes the basic assumption that the chip is processing instructions correctly. If the chip is told to jump to address A, and instead jumps to address B because it is overheating and confused, the OS is going to crash. Doesn't matter whether it's Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, or AbsolutelyCrashProofOS-Z, it's still going to crash.

      In all honestly the stability debate is getting
      • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:58PM (#23508484) Homepage
        That wooshing sound is the point going over your head. It would have been a dead server with Windows because Linux has much better thermal performance, due to the way it idles with the halt instruction. Or at least that's the common wisdom and what GP was referring to.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dbIII ( 701233 )
          So on linux it would be using the HLT instruction and in windows the HCF instruction?

          Sorry, very old assembly code joke that most will miss, but couldn't resist.

  • FUD Ammo... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PinkyDead ( 862370 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:50AM (#23505352) Journal
    How long before we see this up on with the headline:

    "Linux will set your computer on fire."

    You have been warned.
    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      What? Oh. I need more coffee, I'm getting lysdexic. DAM.

      But that could be interpreted as "Linux runs blazingly fast compared to Microsoft" which I don't think even Microsoft is dumb enough to do. Otoh...
    • "Linux will set your computer on fire."
      And if you have an attached printer, it could burst into flames too! Surely you've heard of the famous "lp1 on fire" bug! And if your attached printer runs Linux, it could explode in a double-bad pool of flames!!! (Oh, my head hurts just thinking about it...)
  • by ramon_omar ( 1292652 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:52AM (#23505396)
    I mean, I can run for several hours without a heat sink or a fan.
  • Anyone wanna guess how long their server will last before melting?
  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:55AM (#23505446) Homepage
    The Via is a VERY low power processor.

    Since its one of the 1 GHz processors in the board, TDP is 5W.

    Depending on what power-feedback is involved, the processor might actually just go "I'm overheating, throttle back" and drop down to say 500 MHz at 2.5W or so. The MPEG decoding shouldn't even take too much power, since the CN700 chipset includes hardware MPEG2 decoding.

    As a bonus, the box is OPEN, which improves the cooling.

    • In open air, with no fans blowing air PAST a hot object, it will cool much slower than inside an enclosure where air is brought to the object and is actively exhausted.

      This isn't readily apparent in most modern equipment because hot components have their own active cooling, and the ambient air is cooler outside the case.

      However, if I turn up my 3-speed 120mm case fans to Max, as opposed to Min, my CPU temperature will drop below what I am able to achieve outside.

      But that is only possible when the wiring has
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nweaver ( 113078 )
        The case fan is on the heatsink. So closing THIS case would greatly reduce the cooling, as hot air would be trapped in the case.

  • by VAXcat ( 674775 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:56AM (#23505456)
    A few years back, I was troubleshooting a problem on my desktop. It had a Duron 800 in it. I got tired of putting the heat sink and CPU fan back on every time I made a change, so I figured, what the hell, how hot can it get in the time it takes to try and boot. It made it through the boot fine. I mused "Works great! I bet it doessn't even get that hot. Wonder how hot it is?" With that thought, I reached in and touched the top of the CPU. It was so hot that it instantaneously branded the text and logo etched in the top of the chip onto my thumbtip, before I could react and yank my hand back. For a few weeks, until it sloughed off, it was readable in reverse on my thumb...taught me new respect for the current consumption & heat generation capabilities of CPUs.
    • And that is why if you are going to test the temperature of something, use the *back* of your finger/hand/whatever.. may hurt a little more as those areas are more sensetive, but at least if it is boiling your instinctive flinch will pull your hand/fingers away rather than pushing it down even more. For example if you need to test a metal door handle when exiting a burning building, do it with the back of your hand.. :s
  • I was under the impression that at least some CPUs can detect temperature and adjust their clock frequency accordingly, thus meaning that they simply slow down if overheating. Is this insufficient to deal with the loss of the entire heatsink or am I missing something? I would have expected that there were mechanisms which kick in to prevent damage at elevated temperatures, even if it means simply shutting down. Maybe it is a consequence of studying nuclear physics but personally I would argue that a device
    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      Indeed. CPUs have been doing that for the last decade or so. The early AMDs didn't monitor the temperature changes fast enough to realise when the fan was taken off, and so by the time the chip realised it was too hot, it was already spewing its magic smoke. Intel's chips, back in those days, used to monitor the temperature changes a lot faster, and could indeed throttle back the clock speed to cool the chip. I remember seeing a comparison between an AMD CPU and an Intel one, back when P4s were brand ne
  • /var/log/messages: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dannycim ( 442761 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @11:16AM (#23505744)
    I've made my home machine almost totally silent by using some really large heatsinks. Up 24/24 7/7. One 12V fan running super slowly at 5 volts.

    If I re-encode a movie I get:

    May 21 07:48:00 ganymede kernel: CPU0: Temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 4742833)
    May 21 07:48:00 ganymede kernel: CPU1: Temperature above threshold, cpu clock throttled (total events = 4742833)
    May 21 07:53:00 ganymede kernel: CPU1: Temperature/speed normal
    May 21 07:53:00 ganymede kernel: CPU0: Temperature/speed normal
    Do I care? Not really. Been like that for 3 years now. When it dies I'll swap it for a less powerful CPU and go totally silent. :)
  • and no fan I had an Athlon 1000 about four years ago almost catch on fire if I just didn't happen to come home for lunch. The fan failed for whatever reason and the CPU got smoking hot and started to burn all the dust around the MB. The only reason I notice is that the whole house smelt like burnt dust/hair. After unplugging the power I touched the fan about 5 min later and burnt the hell out my finger as it accidentally touched the heat sink. I had a red burn mark on my finger. I can imagine who hot it rea
  • I don't know why this is tagged "hardhack". If anything, it probably deserves to be tagged "easyhack". The only thing they did was remove the heat sink, right?
  • Not a challenge... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NekoXP ( 67564 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @11:45AM (#23506286) Homepage
    Since when was running a 1 Watt CPU without a heatsink regarded as a challenge? [] - plug plug

    That system runs at 1W@400MHz, although has no video-accelerating northbridge to add to the heat, it can play that MPEG4 video just fine (I am playing something similar now). We've designed it so the 2.5" hard disk actually sits about 5mm from the top of the CPU - if anything we're making cooling harder, and there is NO heatsink. The CPU does NOT power manage into SpeedStep style states - it just runs at 400MHz or "standby" (where it cannot run code until an external interrupt).

    It runs fine. Mine's been on 24/7 for nearly a year, barring moving it around and connecting it up to things like new hard disks, changing power strips or measuring the power it uses. It never overheats.

    What's the challenge meant to be? Just how crappy Via's chip needs to be that it CAN'T run at 500MHz on a 90nm process, and do without a heatsink of some kind?
  • Assuming they compiled mplayer right (and why wouldn't they, since this is basically an ad), the MPEG4 decoding will be happening in the graphics hardware. So the CPU is hardly being taxed. Have it run 'primes'; then I'll be happy.

    Still an extremely attractive piece of hardware. When my TiVo Series One finally gives up, I'll be shopping for a quiet VIA box.
  • due to lack of cooling, it's underclocked. Then the question is no longer "how long will it last" but "how much can we overclock it before it starts dropping bits or burns up entirely."
  • I used to work for a PC assembler. After a while you ended up knowing the numbers through sheer experience.

    A mid range Pentium 4 (at the time 2.4Gz?) with the overheat cut off sent at 90 degrees, and no heatsink would run for about 60 seconds from room temp - ie just long enough to get into the BIOS Health screen and watch the numbers climb - if you were fast.

    The same machine, with heat sink fitted but not properly would last longer, but not enough to do anything substantial with.

    With the heatsink fit

  • by Dhar ( 19056 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:25PM (#23506926) Homepage
    Back in my Transmeta days, I set up a demo doing exactly of our CPUs playing movies without a heatsink, head-to-head with a comparable Intel and it's (hot) heatsink. It lasted all day, and only got slightly warm. Still, I always expected to get burned every time I stuck my finger on the die top for the reporters. Poor, poor Transmeta. :)


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