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How to Overclock a Computer and Maintain Rock-hard Stability [Part 2/2] (Page 3/4)

Posted: January 26, 2000
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan

Click here to read Part 1 of this How To guide.

Electrostatic Migration and Burnout

Electrostatic migration and burnout are the two things most feared by overclockers. Burnout is very simple - an excess of heat builds up within the processor, permanently damaging the hardware, making it unusable. This is the main reason why people make $75 Celeron keychains and other such adornments. Electrostatic migration, however, is just as deadly, and much less known. Each transistor within the chip's core develops an electrostatic charge over time, much like the way iron can develop a magnetic charge that will linger after any electric current has subsided.

Within CPUs, this electrostatic charge is a dangerous entity if it begins to affect the other transistors around it. That is why it is so difficult for computer companies to develop new chips - they must take into account the need for buffering room between the transistors within the chip. As a particular transistor's electrostatic field increases, it can cause damage to the other transistors around it. Electrostatic migration shouldn't be a problem for most overclocked processors unless you exceed the company's maximum core frequency for that particular model of core.

If you are exceeding the maximum frequency for a particular model of core, you need to be careful as to how long you have your computer running and how many consecutive hours a day you have it turned off. The longer you have your computer turned off at one time, the longer it will take for electrostatic migration to affect your system. You can't stop electrostatic migration from occurring, but depending on how you use your computer will determine how fast it will begin to take hold. Don't worry about it too much though, because even in the worst cases, it still takes a few years before it starts causing problems.

Overclocked Processor Lifetime

Worst case scenario for the lifetime of a non-burned out overclocked processor is over two years, while most processors will continue to function after five or six years. Unless you don't upgrade your system except when it breaks (this is very uncommon among overclockers and tweakers alike), you should never run into a problem with your processor's lifetime.

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