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Inside the Machine by Jon Stokes

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The Rise of Power-Efficient Computing

Although the so-called “mobile revolution” had clearly arrived by the time Intel introduced the Pentium M in 2003, the previous years’ rapid growth in portable computer sales wasn’t the only reason Intel and other processor manufacturers had begun to pay serious attention to the power dissipation of their chips. As transistor sizes steadily shrank and designers became able to cram more power-hungry circuits into each square millimeter of a chip’s surface area, a new barrier to processor performance loomed on the near horizon: the power wall.

Power wall is a term used by Intel to describe the point at which its chips’ power density (the number of watts dissipated per unit area) began to seriously limit further ...

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