• http://www.technologyreview.com, By Katie Bourzac
When people in the chip industry talk about the thermal problems in
computer processors, they get dramatic. In 2001, Pat Gelsinger, then
vice president of Intel, noted that if the temperatures produced by the
latest chips kept rising on their current path, they would exceed the
heat of a nuclear reactor by 2005, and the surface of the sun by 2015.
Fortunately, such thermal disaster was averted by slowing down the
switching speeds in microprocessors, and by adopting multicore chip
designs in which several processors run in parallel.
Now the semiconductor industry has another thermal problem to sort
out. As chip components shrink, the copper wiring that connects them
must shrink, too. And as these wires get thinner, they heat up
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