Overclockers waged a battle of ice against fire last week in Taipei, pushing the performance limits of Intel's CPUs to 5GHz. The hobbyists, who are becoming an increasingly common sight at IT trade shows, are perfecting the art of pushing processors to their limits.The demonstration on the stand of Taiwanese motherboard maker Abit Co. Ltd. used Intel Corp. Core 2 Quad processors that usually run at 2.66GHz.
The speed of a processor is typically determined by two things: the speed of the interface that connects the chip to the rest of the computer (called the front-side bus) and a multiplier. For example, a 500MHz front-side bus and a multiplier of three means the chip runs at 1.5GHz. By changing these values the chip can be made to run faster.The result is not just more speed but lots of heat. Typically a processor is cooled with a large metal heat sink and fans, but that's not enough for overclocked chips so a more imaginative method is needed.
A short walk away on the booth of Foxconn Electronics Inc., the Taiwanese component maker, another overclocking demonstration was talking place. This one matched a local overclocker, who was pouring liquid nitrogen from a large bottle into an ice-crusted mug and then pouring that by hand over the processor, with Shimano, an overclocker from Singapore, who was using dry ice, or solid carbon dioxide.He was overclocking a 3GHz version of Intel's Core 2 Duo processor to speeds of around 5GHz.