Currently a modern high-end processor can have up to 19 billion transistors that it utilises as switches with outputs of 0s and 1s to perform logical/arithmetic operations and control the flow of data. This allows it to perform countless amounts of instructions that leads to us being able to use a computer for a wide variety of tasks. Although, processors nowadays are sufficient for the everyday usage of the public they are not perfect, therefore, throughout this section of my report I will analyse the problems modern processor face that prevent innovation and advancements in the CPU field.
One of the major problems that all CPU manufacturers need to consider is heat and the effects that the temperature can have on performance. CPUs generally generate large amounts of heat and it is not unusual for them to run at approximately 70°C whilst performing demanding tasks such as video rendering. This is largely due to the voltage running through the transistor that’s main purpose is to produce motion and cause the transistor to alternate between states (closed and open which translate in to a numerical value either 1 or 0 within the data of the CPU). Also, the higher the voltage the greater the speed of the transistor’s alternations and the greater the reduction in time required for the CPU to complete tasks. However, this conversion of energy (from electrical to kinetic) is not 100% efficient, the amount of energy that is produced per one transistor is very small, this causes limitations as it is not efficient due to energy being lost in the form of heat, but this is balanced due to the large number of transistors that can be found in modern CPUs (Science studio, 2016). High temperatures can quickly become dangerous for a CPU as it could lead to it melting, forming micro-cracks or obtaining permanent damage to its transistors.
Most manufacturers get around this problem by providing or recommending cooling solutions with an appropriate TDP (thermal design power) ratings. That allows the user to get a cooler that will be efficient enough to dissipate the amount of heat necessary to prevent damage which will vary from CPU to CPU. Furthermore, many manufactures implement a feature known as CPU throttling which purposefully and temporarily reduces the speed of the transistors when temperatures are close to dangerous levels. To reduce the amount of heat being produce and allow the cooling system to catch up and reduce the temperature to more safe levels . However, these are not ideal as they just control the problem and do not remove the problem and therefore manufactures are usually limited to the amount and speed of transistors, as large cooling systems cannot be utilised in certain devices such as smartphone. Also, for the sake of convenience many manufactures choose not to use large cooling systems as they can be expensive and require regular maintenance which is expensive and could potentially prevent people from buying it.