The science of many smaller chips over fewer more powerful ones is all in the energy. If you have a lot of transistors splitting the load, it’s a much more efficient process. The difficulties of producing such small transistors aside, it means that each smaller transistor will demand less energy and power than its predecessor, and the greater transistor count just means it’ll carry out that much more work per cycle — so far, so good.
But what matters more than all this is the thermal density wall. The real limit in overclocking is the juice: how much you can give the CPU, and how much it can take. With the Conroes, there is only good news to report: the (far) lower power consumption means that you can overclock it quite a bit more. Here’s why:
Energy cannot be created or destroyed.
This fundamental law of physics in one sentence sums up everything you need to know to properly deal with heat management and CPUs. In a word, it means that whatever juice your CPU sucks in, it will spit back out as heat for you to deal with. The more power it consumes, the hotter it’s going to run. The hotter it runs, the less room you have for overclocking. Easy.
In the past, overclockers have had to resort to diabolical measures to keep the CPU cores from overheating: Tunic Tower, Water, LN2, Dry Ice, and more. With the Conroe, you don’t have to. Well, obviously, you still can; but you’ll get far enough without it too.
As the studies show, the Conroes are amazingly efficient and have excellent performance/power ratios. Intel’s traditional problem has been the thermal density wall: their technologies (theoretically) would have been excellent for higher clock-speeds, but for the fact that the heat kept them from reaching it.
These long years later, the heat index has been reset but the performance is still going, and that’s all what matters to overclocking enthusiasts. Since the “ground-zero” heat barrier has dropped considerably, there is all of a sudden a lot more room for you to drive your performance upward at little or no cost.
While this “review” of sorts has focused on Intel and specifically, the Conroe processors; from what we hear AMD might very well have the same by the end of the year, and the same rules should apply. It doesn’t matter if they get their 65nm line out today, tomorrow, or in a year, the laws of physics are here to stay and can’t be broken, so worry not, they’ll apply!
Sources and Recommended Reading