How does the temperature of a computer effect its performance?



How does the temperature of a computer effect its performance?

In: Technology

A computer is made up of parts that have metal inside of them. Metal conducts heat and electricity which is why it’s used in computers. Some metals can take a lot more heat than others.

The main part is called the processor. It’s made up of many very small wires of metal. To make a computer do stuff we must first plug it into the electrical outlet. This sends electricity to the computer very much like the way electricity lights up a lightbulb. And that electricity heats up the processor’s wires in the same way that it heats up a lightbulb. To make computers go faster, we could use more electricity which makes them hotter. The metal wires inside the computer however will start melting if we keep making them hotter and hotter.

So to keep the metals from melting or getting damaged in any way, computer makers stop putting more electricity through the computer’s wires that are inside its processor.

If we could find a material like vibranium maybe that doesn’t melt when it is heated we could make computers go even faster like super fast. Until then, we have to use computers that need to be cooled down when we use them for very fast things like games and very amazing graphics.

Edit: corrected misspelled words

Computer processors will tend to adjust their clock speeds based on their temperature. Generally speaking, they will throttle ( clock down to low speeds) to prevent overheating, but some will dynamically change their cloxk for very few degrees.

On the other side of the coin, processors will generate more heat if their clocks go up, especially if the voltages rise in response.

As such, processor makers, OEMs, and enthusiasts will try and balance their thermals, power, and performance to the best of their abilities.

Edit: oxford commas.

GPUs and CPUs have a maximum temperature. If they ever go above that, they will automatically throttle themselves, which will reduce performance, until it cools back down. This is usually 90C.

These days CPUs have a sort of automatic overclocking (eg, “Turbo Boost”), in which the CPU is able to run a bit faster for a short time, if it’s cool enough.

Other than that, in normal conditions, temperature doesn’t really matter. Whether your system is at 40C or 50C makes little difference — it’s within spec, and it will run at full power. The main reason to want low temps is to have a margin for times of 100% usage. If you can run your CPU at 100% constantly without it coming close to overheating, you’re doing fine.

Arguably, a high CPU temperature can cause premature failure, but it seems like an unlikely thing to worry about unless you want to keep it running for a decade with really high temperatures. That might be a consideration for some special purpose devices in a cramped, fanless case, but seems unlikely to be an issue for a desktop computer.

Where people really obsess about temperature is overclocking, where you try to push things absolutely as far as they will go, and there getting as cold as possible may allow you to get a bit more performance out of it.

Heat can warp the PCB (the thing that all the chips and parts are attached to), it can damage [capacitors]( which then leak corrosive liquid all over the computer, and it can damage the fragile solder joints that connect the chips to the PCB.

But CPUs and GPUs are usually designed so they run at their highest speed at high temperature. So there isn’t any performance impact all the way until it runs into its thermal protection mechanism, which slows down the clock speed. That is why an overheating laptop will run fast until it suddenly slows to a crawl.

For overclocking, better cooling allows more heat to be produced without overheating. That makes it possible to raise the voltage, which in turn allows a higher clockspeed. That is why overclocking records use liquid nitrogen or even liquid helium to cool the part down as much as possible: This way, they can raise the voltage to levels which would otherwise immediately overheat or even kill the CPU.

The cpu in the computer is composed of logic gates.

The logic gates are small little metal gates that open and close to do binary calculations.

Now the idea is that the smaller the gates, the less energy you need to open and close them, thats why a 25nm chip consumes more then a 14nm chip which consumes more then a 7nm chip.

But energy is still required, and the faster you move them, more energy is required.

The thing is that the faster you move the gates, the more energy you need and that energy is released as heat through fiction.

The issue is that the heat released will change the properties of the metal and silicon base changing the energy needed to move the gates as well changing the electrical conductivity and the shame (deforming the gates).

So the cooler a chip can operate at a faster frequency.

Now frequency isnt everything, but we would have to go in to basics of CPU design for that, so for now lets just leave it at that.

A cpu produces heat and when a cpu gets too hot it becomes damaged and stops working. The solution to this is thermal throttling, when a cpu starts to get close to what the manufacture has determined to be the cut off temp it will adjust the clock of the CPU lower so the CPU produces less heat.

The CPU clock is more or less how fast the CPU can process instructions. The higher the clock the more instructions it can process. The lower the clock the fewer you can process.

Similarly this applies for gpus in the same way.

Additionally some storage mediums are said to function better or worse when hotter or colder depending on the medium.

Mind you it also isn’t ideal for a computer to be overly cold either. A computer that has a cooling system that can make it colder than room temperature risks condensation which could lead to issues with the electronics (water doesn’t mix well with electronics)