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Old 06-04-2004, 12:59 PM   #1
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2012 Escape

Default This is why you should read the WHOLE story

'cuz you may miss a last-line gem like this one:


Overheated PCs mean hot business for cooling firms

TAIPEI, Taiwan (Reuters) -- Powerful microchips are throwing off so much heat that the inside of a personal computer is hotter than Death Valley, helping Taiwan firms specializing in cooling components post sizzling sales.

Temperatures inside a PC can rise to a scorching 60-70 degrees Celsius (140-158 Fahrenheit) as a side effect of the increased performance of the latest processors, shortening the life of computer components.

Tackling such temperatures, which exceed the record 56.7 degrees Celsius set in the Californian desert, have created a fertile market for companies such as Taiwan's Asia Vital Components.

"The thermal problem is becoming more and more important to PC makers," said AVC Chairman Spencer Shen, whose company is the world's largest manufacturer of cooling components, with a more than 25 percent market share. "They want a complete solution, not just a single component."

The company has forecast its net profits and revenues will both rise 45 percent in 2004, to T$479 million ($14 million) and T$7.8 billion respectively.

AVC, which began by producing the copper or aluminium heat sinks that sit atop processor chips, the computer's "brain," has diversified into fans and computer cases to meet demand for cheaper ways to dissipate heat. Its fastest growing line is metal pipes to conduct heat in laptop computers.

Semiconductor heavyweight Intel Corp, which owns a one percent stake in the firm, counts on AVC to provide the design for components to cool its Pentium chips.

The company also supplies to every major PC maker except Dell Inc, due to Dell specifications on heat sink design.

Catcher Technology Co Ltd, Taiwan's biggest maker of magnesium casings for electronic gadgets, was inspired to diversify into laptop computer cases in the mid-1990s, when PCs were moving from Intel's Pentium II to its Pentium III.

"I remember reading in magazines about all the heat problems this would create," said Allen Horng, Catcher's chairman and president.

Horng set about calling heads of research and development at Taiwan's laptop contract manufacturers, trying to convince them to use magnesium cases that transfer heat faster than plastic. Today, laptops account for 70 percent of Catcher's business.

He expects revenue to grow more than 50 percent this year, after jumping nearly 85 percent in 2003 to reach T$3.4 billion.

"Heat is still an issue, even with the Centrino," Horng said.

Intel's Centrino chips for laptop computers marked the processor giant's most significant shift to tackle the heat problem, because it reined in the number-crunching power of the processor in order to lower its temperature and increase battery life.

"As an engineer, to tell you the truth, I would like to really design chips that I don't have to worry about power or cost, but then I would be dreaming. I want to create a product that people can use," said Shekhar Borkar, Intel's director of circuit research.

"With the Centrino's success, you can expect in the future for us to learn from this exercise and impact our future desktop lines," Borkar said.

Last month, Intel scrapped the development of two new chips in order to rush to market a more efficient technology, a move analysts said was an effort to cut back on the heat problem.

The result should be cooler computers requiring less costly cooling components, as well as fewer embarrassing accidents.

British medical journal The Lancet in 2002 reported the case of a man who used a notebook computer on his lap for about an hour -- and developed blisters on his scrotum.
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