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Built In CPU Obsolescence?

Over the years I’ve had a lot of different desktop and laptop computers, Intel and AMD alike and I’m happy to say that I’ve never had a Central Processing Unit (CPU) die. Graphics cards, batteries even motherboards have occasionally faltered but CPUs have always been the most reliable part of my rigs and devices. So I was surprised to hear that the latest processors are considered less reliable than older ones, being ‘nanometre’ in device size compared with ‘micrometre’ of previous generations.

The devices that a CPU contains are transistors, the on/off switches that rout information and power for logical operations. Modern transistors are at least one hundred times smaller than the old ones (Intel 8080 ), so that more can be crammed into the same space and this makes them more fragile. As an example, the Intel 8080 processor had 6000 transistors to make it’s computations with. Compare that to a more modern Intel i7-9700K which has 3 billion transistors or an AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, which has an enormous 4.8 billion transistors and we start to see the difference.

As was said, the physical size of CPUs has not particularly changed so the contents are what has become smaller and with the massive increase in the number of switches, which make processors faster has come at a cost, ‘probability’.
It is more probable now that failures will occur because there is a huge increase in the number of opportunities for this to happen.

The heat is on.

With all of this processing power taking place in a small space, lots of heat is being generated and so efficient cooling systems for modern CPUs have become essential. A simple OEM fan with thermal paste will work for everyday activities on a PC but when high demand 3D gaming or graphics are doing their thing then many fans or even a water or copper cooling systems are required.
Having a hot CPU shortens it’s life and having an overclocked CPU shortens it even more.

Manufacturers warranty modern CPUs for three years but allow 100,000 hours (11 years) for normal operation before problems are likely to occur.

So, do modern CPUs have built in obsolescence? Not really, it’s just that demand and competition is pushing the science behind these processors to new limits constantly and as a result the probability of a fail is increasing.

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