Saturday, August 17, 2013

It'll be an easy job he says ...

Had a mini surprise after coming back from the Mall on Thursday ...

I'm very happy with my current desktop PC in that it stays cooler than the last one. PCs are built around transistors (tiny electronic switches) and every time one of those transistors changes state, it makes a little heat. The processor in my desktop is a Sandy Bridge device, with just under 1 billion of those transistors built into something of only 216mm2 in area.

How big is that ? It's about the size of what's after the last joint in your little finger. It's a lot of heat coming from a very small area.

Why so many ? It's been a while since I've been involved in chip design but a "reliable" source (I googled it - lol) says it takes 64 transistors per byte of cache memory. And there's a lot of memory built into the processors these days to make them faster. There's actually more memory in my desktop's processor than there was in my first PC.

Anyway - heat. My desktop sits at around 63-66 degrees C when it's been doing work for a while. The graphics card was sitting at about 71 degrees C.

2 things there - I keep my desktop doing sums all the time for Seti, Climateprediction and a few other physical and medical science groups. That gives me an idea of the maximum temperatures the machine will be at when it's under load and from that, whether or not it's likely to become toast during a gaming session. The second thing is that I run these temperature monitoring widgets to keep an eye on the machine. They're free from

The heat thing is also why I'm looking to change my laptop and move to an Intel. The current laptop runs an AMD processor which normally runs at 2GHz, except when you push it. When it gets hot, it limits itself to 40% speed. So when I'm watching video on it, it overheats, cuts back to 40% and I get choppy, pixellated playback. That's not good enough.

Going back to the desktop - when I got in on Thursday, the graphics card was running at 90 degrees C, an increase on the norm by 20. That's bad news. What's really bad news is that it crashed in only the 4th World of Tanks battle. When this starts happening, it's usually a sign of Impending Doom. So off I go yesterday to Novatech to buy another graphics card.

It'll be an easy job he says ... it'll take 10 minutes he says ...

First problem - it's about 2cm longer than the old one. Space is tight inside most PCs, this time the card clashed on the disc drives. So the drives get moved.

Next problem - fire it up ... and it can't see the right disc drives. Oops. Cable pulled out. Modern cables go in easier ... which them easier to accidentally pull out. Grr.

And while fixing that, one of the plugs explodes ... It literally breaks in half, leaving one half in one of my disc drives. Cue a hunt for pliers.

It's all gone together ok, a big World of Tanks session showed that it kicks out a 50% increase in frame rate (it's probably getting processor limited) and no crashes. After a day of soaking the heat in, it's at 60 degrees C, 10 degrees cooler than the last one was.

Hopefully this will be the last time I open that desktop up again for a while, although it has put thoughts of changing the laptop on hold for a bit.

PS No blood sacrifice this time around.
PS2 Next time you're looking for something to close out 5 minutes until you want to shut down, open up Task Manager and check the "System Idle Time". You'll be shocked at what it says. This laptop has been on for 2 hours 10 minutes today and the System Idle Time is already at 3 hours 40 minutes today. Waitaminute ... Divide that by 2 for the number of processors and you get 1 hour 50, this laptop has only done 20 minutes of genuine work since it's been on and a lot of that will have been updates.
PS3 For the techies - I've gone from a 560Ti card to a 760 card, powered by an Intel i5-2500K.

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