August 2006


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Intel kills an industry and a standard

Okay, maybe not completely kills, but definitely puts a kink in the works for water cooling.

I was reading the latest issue of MaximumPC magazine yesterday, and they have the new Dream Machine out. Under the hood: Intel’s latest Extreme Edition proc, a Conroe Core 2. The thing kicks some serious ass, and now holds 5 of 6 possible benchmark records – the one it didn’t get is held by an outrageously overclocked quad-video-card monstrosity.

Most interesting though, is what they did to test the new thermal dissipation ratings. In an effort to see just how well the fact meets the hype about the power usage, they tried to overheat the processor. They went so far as to unplug the CPU fan and transcode a full DVD!

The proc temp went up about 3 degrees C.

That’s it.

As for the standard, they pretty much pounded the nails into the coffin for the BTX formfactor. Conceived during the Mad MegaHertz Race when both AMD and Intel procs could heat your entire home, the BTX standard re-arranges the case and plants a massive cooler on the proc, and moves all other heat-generating components as far away as possible.

About the time it launched, however, AMD released a new slew of Cool ‘n Quiet chips that worked just fine with air cooling in the ATX formfactor. Manufacturers of AMD-spec motherboards saw no need to switch, so they stuck with ATX. This left the Intel-only houses dealing with a huge thermal payload, so they grudgingly re-tooled to the new formfactor.

Now, just when Dell, Gateway and others are rolling out BTX, Intel goes and builds a thermally efficient chip. The Intel reps are still touting BTX as the wave of the future, but I’m guessing there will be some pretty pissed-off folks in the case houses.

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