[RC5] Adverse effects of participation?

Peter Cordes peter at llama.nslug.ns.ca
Sun Jan 30 14:34:23 EST 2000


On Wed, Jan 26, 2000 at 02:31:08PM -0800, Kevin O'Gorman wrote:

> Well, I have bad news: most semiconductor failures come from the slow dispersion
> of the "doping" (impurity) atoms through the crystal matrix of the substrate
> (silicon/germanium).  The dispersion rate increases with temperature, and
> even with cooling fans, it's going to be faster when the machine is running than
> when it is not.
> 
> I also have some good news: this effect is usually minimal, and chances are the
> machine will be hopelessly obsolete before it breaks even under 24/7 conditions.
> I run two of my home machines 24/7 and I've been doing this for 15 years
> or so (since 1985) and I'm not going to stop now. 

 Old CPUs used much bigger transistors which are less affected by dispesion
of doping atoms across the junctions.  Modern CPUs have very small
transistors, only a few hundreds of atoms across (IIRC :).  They will wear
out faster under continuous full-power use.  (It still takes a long time,
probably more than 10 years, but it might take 20 or 30 years if you usually
had a light load so the kernel could execute halt instructions to save
power, or even use APM to shut down the whole mobo.  (of course, then
powering up from that is a bit like turning on your computer, so a bit hard
on things.))

 But seriously, I wouldn't worry.  People do run 24/7 e-commerce sites off
retail CPUs.  (e-commerce web sites require the server to do some work to
generate each page, especially https encrypted connections, so typically the
system load will be "up there" on a busy site.)  They don't usually break
down :) 

#define X(x,y) x##y
DUPS Secretary ; http://is2.dal.ca/~dups/
Peter Cordes ;  e-mail: X(peter at cordes.phys. , dal.ca)

"The gods confound the man who first found out how to distinguish the hours!
 Confound him, too, who in this place set up a sundial, to cut and hack
 my day so wretchedly into small pieces!" -- Plautus, 200 BCE

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