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More Super Cool Overclocking 55 has a followup to a story we linked there a couple of months ago where they submerged a motherboard in nitrogen cooled flourinet, and overclocked the hell out of the chips. Well, they're back with an extensive photo documentary of the sequel where they try to take it below zero, and clock things over a gigahertz. You probably shouldn't be trying this at home, but it sure is fun to see on a Web page.
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More Super Cool Overclocking

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  • Yeah, Samba and the penguin logo, that pretty much accounts for everything. :)

  • by alteridem ( 46954 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @06:47AM (#773618) Homepage
    The fact remains that the cpu's that most overclockers use are very cheap in comparison with the latest high end chips. For a few extra dollars spent on a good motherboard and a Golden Orb cooler overclockers are safely pushing 600 MHz Celerons to 850 Mhz and beyond. With this sort of price for performance, one might ask, "Why wouldn't you overclock?"

    That said, this article was obviously done just for the sheer geek of it and power to them. The advances in cooling could easily be used in future production machines.

    If you have to ask "Why overclock?" then you are obviously not the type who takes every new toy in your home apart as soon as it comes in the door just to see how it works and how you can screw with it.
  • by martyb ( 196687 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @06:48AM (#773619)

    IANAOC. Seems they had success when everything was uniformly cooled with the Flourinert and dry ice. Problems arose when they used the Liquid Nitrogen on JUST the processor. So, the CPU could go faster than the support chips which were not similarly cooled? Maybe the video card, though now running with the same bus speed as the LN-cooled CPU could not operate at those speeds without also being cooled to LN temps. They mentioned:

    So what happened? Did it boot? Yeah it did. Booted easily with the CPU at about -150C(block temp), but you cannot understand the language anymore. The screen suddenly turned alien into us. We cannot understand a damn thing! Checksum error was up. We could go into the BIOS but everything was different. The keyboard types different letters.

    CPU could handle it okay, but the rest of the system was breaking down. Gotta cool the WHOLE thing, or else your system is only as fast as your slowest link.

    So, for MISSION: SUBMERSIBLE 3, I'd like to see them try immersing the ENTIRE RIG in LN, with good-sized heat sinks on the CPU, video card... everywhere and THEN see how it worked. The major concern I'd have would be they migh be encountering a race condition between components that would never arise at conventional speeds.

    Offtopic, but here's an idea of what they could have done with the LN when they were done with THAT experiment. (I attended a party in college where we actually DID this. IIRC, It was some time around 1979 or 1980.) Use the excess LN to freeze some vodka in ice cube trays! The vodka will easily freeze at those temps... voila! VodCubes! Take a couple VodCubes, drop 'em in a cup of collins mixer, wait for the VodCubes to stop dancing around on the comparitively hot collins mixer, and enjoy your vodka collins! Looking back, I wish we had tried it with orange juice -- could have called it a frozen screwdriver!

  • (Score:2, Insightful)

    I wonder which continent the moderator lives on.....

  • Well, they thought about it more this time, let's give them a little credit. I'd say it's at least 2/3's baked. :-)
  • by AntiNorm ( 155641 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @09:17AM (#773622)
    Recently, in one of my EE courses, overclocking was mentioned. It was also mentioned why certain designs can only be pushed so far, and after that they cannot be clocked any higher, regardless of how well they are cooled.

    The problem is with propagation delays. Basically, when one part of a digital logic circuit goes high or low, this change takes time to propagate to the rest of the circuit. This is a very small delay, but when you have a circuit as complicated as, say a Pentium III, it can become important. There are small gaps in between parts of the circuit being in different states, and as the clock rate is pushed higher and higher, these gaps become smaller and smaller. If the clock rate is pushed too high, different states of the circuit will overlap, essentially causing it to malfunction. It should be noted that a circuit or portion thereof does not change states (0 to 1 or 1 to 0) instantaneously; this is what allows the overlap that ends overclockability. Propagation delays also explain why, for example, you can't push a C64 to 200 MHz. The circuits in the CPU weren't designed for speeds like that.

  • Yeah, you can speed up the machine, for a while.
    But at reduced temps, especially LN2, hot carriers are generated very efficiently and will degrade those hard working MOSFETS much faster than normal.
    Eventually the CPU will stop working...and where's the cost savings in that ?
    The countermeasure is to lower the core voltage, but then you won't get quite as much of that coveted blazing speed!
  • Heat pipes are really nifty things were a metal tube is evacuated, then a small amount of water is placed inside. Now some of the water immediatley vaporizes until the system reaches equilibrium. When one end of the pipe is heated, this equilibrium is upset and some more water vaporizes. This induces a pressure change that travels down the pipe at the speed of sound, until the vapour cools enough to condense back into water. The water is then pumped back to the other end by cappilary action of the porous surface on the inside of the pipe. The point of all this is that heat pipes can have enourmously steep thermal gradiens. These things are used in laptops to pump the heat from the processor to the frame. I think this is a much better idea than putting a huge heat sink right on the proccesor. Just attach an adequately sized heat pipe to the proccessor and an adequately sized heat sink on the other end of the pipe. The pipe itself can be many feet long without seriously lowering the thermal gradient. Put a dense pin sink the size of the side of your computer case inplace of the side of your computer. Some manufacturer even put a heat "pipe" chamber on the bottom of a heat sink to get around the problem of the highly concentrated heat source that tiny modern procs provide. The entire heat sink is very nearly uniform in temp.

    Why aren't heat pipes used more. They make much more sense than water cooling a computer and are virtually unbreakable.

  • Twas a joke, but apparently a bad one.
  • Soon we will be seeing some stories about overclockers with severe radiation burns because they took off the shielding of the P4 and overclocked it to 2Ghz, suffering radiation burns and maybe even a long and slow painful death. Or maybe they will replace their magnotron in their microwave with their P4 and start cooking while compiling a kernel.

    What will they think of next.

    No sig, to lazy to make one up.
  • And if you want to get into really crazy overclocking, eventually the speed of light plays a factor. At 10 GHz, the electricity can't get further than ~3cm in a clock cycle.
  • They did, and the CPU worked, but the MB didn't.
  • Am I only person who thought that a semiconductor requires a minimal amount of heat to create the free electrons to conduct. Once running, the chips produce heat, but if it's too cold can the chips fail to start up properly?
  • I bet it didn't worked with LN2 because the number of free electrons in the semiconductors (silicon) was too low at that temperature.

    But what if they PAID for those electrons?
  • Didn't samba [] come from Brazil?

  • Top Fuel Drag Racing. 0 to 300+mph in less than 5 secs. Why? They're only going 440 yds. You don't have to understand overclocking, but you can admire it in a way.
  • It seems that the BIOS failed...interesting that the video card still worked, though.
  • Being a "die-hard" mac fan, I'd buy one of those coolers. I have an old iMac that runs quite toastily with the "fan" going all night. Let's just say I got rid of my heater because it keeps my room at about boiling point for most of the year. Where can I get one of those cooling systems for myself?
    "Stop it, Ford," he said. "You're turning into a penguin."
  • Some scientists think that as you approach Absolute Zero, time starts to slow down, just like time slows down as you approach the speed of light.

    Well, I guess that time is a measure of distance and (relative?) velocity (i think??). So, if things stop moving (atomic level) like they (are supposed to) do at zero, how can you mesure time? Plus the buttons on the stop watch probably get too cold :)

    I believe that their computer had actually jumped forward in time!!!

    So that's why the Delorean and the flux capacitor had the fog comming off it! It was LN-cooled and over-clocked!

  • I bet it didn't worked with LN2 because the number of free electrons in the semiconductors (silicon) was too low at that temperature.

    I guess that's why semiconductors are sold with a min and max temperature where flawless operation is guaranteed :-).

    (BTW: Min. Tcase of Celeron 266-533: +5C :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 17, 2000 @06:11AM (#773637)
    it's not about seeing if a chip can break the 1 Ghz barrier. Off the shelf crap can do that. It's about make stuff perform well beyond its rated capacity -- about testing the limits. It's about doing something funky for an afternoon that hasn't been done much before.

    This may be a bold comparision, but if Sir Edmond Hillary's accomplishment was posted on /., how many people would say "Why did he do that? There's nothing at the top of that mountain. That's dumb. He could have flown over it. What a moron."
  • Yeah, but for what you paid for that cooling system, you could have just bought a faster CPU.
  • It didn't work. When they tried to feed the LN2 into the block and boot, everything went wrong. "Somehow the CMOS was damaged by the extreme temperature." If you've interested to read what finally happened, go here []

  • Thanks for your support. We need all the help we can get.
  • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @07:46AM (#773641) Homepage
    Over a year ago I spent about $400 building an overclocked dual celeron system. It has two C333's running comfortably at 500mhz with no problems at all. One year later its still faster than most systems available today. Lets see you beat that price/performance factor. It sure was funny seeing intel developers stating that celerons don't support SMP while abit was cranking out BP6's left and right.
  • So what happened? Did it boot? Yeah it did. Booted easily with the CPU at about -150C(block temp), but you cannot understand the language anymore. The screen suddenly turned alien into us. We cannot understand a damn thing! Checksum error was up. We could go into the BIOS but everything was different. The keyboard types different letters.

    Some scientists think that as you approach Absolute Zero, time starts to slow down, just like time slows down as you approach the speed of light.

    So based on the extremely low temperatures, and the extreme amounts of electricity involved. I believe that their computer had actually jumped forward in time!!! Those strange characters on the screen were really future space alien types trying to communicate! How else could you explain this line here:

    The screen suddenly turned alien into us

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Sunday September 17, 2000 @06:41AM (#773643) Homepage
    I'm going to seal my backpack and fill it up with LN2. This will allow me to keep my Journada supercooled, and I will be able to take it out and get crazy framerates in Doom!

    If I have thick enough gloves, I should be fine.

    This plan has several added benefits: I can always have supercooled Pepsi with me and if I say an extremely attractive female and start to lose control of myself, I can just dump my backpack over my head and be cooled off.

    crack... crack...

  • Is it so hard for you to believe that pedophiles exist?
  • Hmmm, I wonder whether the company that is trying to overclock PowerPCs by active cooling is going to do something. While a 1 Gig G4 with it's 4 stage pipeline would undoubtably by cool, I'd rather not have to cool it with liquid nitrogen or fluro-whatever. They can't expect to sell computers to people using a liquid cooling system, except of course those die-hard mac fans.
  • Computers are built from the ground up to run at specific frequencies. multiplying the clocks just wont have satisfactory effects. some frequencies are 'hard-coded' in the circuits, and they won't change. (555 circuits and the like)
  • People were yelling about that the first time around, but you can't just say that the LN is colder than Flouronert's freezing point so it will freeze.

    For example, the radiator in you car uses air as the coolant. But once your car has been running, the antifreeze's ambient temperature will be higher than the temperature outside on a cold day. If your car was running all the time and kept in a heated garage, you could use straight water in the radiator in sub-zero conditions.

    Granted, in this case there was a pretty big difference between the two temperatures, though :)

  • Hey,
    This attempt seems impressive, although I was a little stricken by the fact that they were bothered when they finished the first part (before the LN2) that they thought they needed the Nitogen.

    If I were them...I would have tried for a higher clock speed before switching to L2. They were running at -48 degrees Celsius, and at 1035mhz....they could have probably overclocked that thing to 1100 or more, and still not broken -20 C.

    I was also suprised they didn't attempt overclocking the GeForce they had on the system, since it was also running below freezing temperature, they probably could have clocked it up QUITE a bit.

    In any case, I don't think I'll be needing any SuperCool solutions for some time...I'm quite happy overclocking my Celeron566 to 875 and keeping my GeForce256 SDR to 145/190.

    -Julius X
  • I'm wondering if the nitrogen even made it to the processor. With enough flow, it would have gotten there and back out, but they would have been better off cooling all of their fluid or sinking the whole board in a big dewar. Caution: get adequate ventilation or suffocate (don't be one Michael Hutchins kind). The temperature difference between one side of the processor and the other must have been enormous and I'm supprised it did not shatter and I can imagine it did warp. Droping the thing in liquid nitrogen is kind of harsh and might snap it too. If they could reduce the volume of coolang some more and run the nitrogen tubing all around it, they might be able to drop the temperature slowly and evenly. Hmmm, some kind of christmass tune is floating in my head, "let it gell, let it gell, let it gell", where did that come from?

    By the way, trying to load up CMOS with a non functional CPU sounds like a bad idea. "It don't work, captian, what should I do?", "Turn it up Scotty!". If it cant read the keybord, what can it read?

  • Please see this article:

  • "Okay Gordon, just put the dry ice into the case."

  • Well, where I am going to school, many of the experiments require liquid helium. That's at less than -269C, or 4Kelvin. I would like to see a computer submerged in that. Of course, since the LN2 appeared to be too cold for these people's system to operate, I imagine LHe would completely kill the computer. It would still be fun...

  • Back in the mists of time (ok 1984) I had a BBC micrcomputer and a very, very, cold room. When I switched on the beeb in the winter it wouldn't start and I got error messages - the (EE)PROMs containing the BIOS were out of spec.
    So what I did was to use a hairdrier to heat up the chips and then switch on. Simple.
    I suspect that the problem these guys are having is that they're cooling too much of the mobo - I doubt if anything other than the CPU needs this amount of cooling.

    I'd like to know if they've tried running this MB/CPU at room temp after this experiment, I wouldn't be surprised if it was working.

  • You're not the only person who thought that. I was surprised that they attempted a "cold" boot, pardon the pun...
  • > Am I only person who thought that a semiconductor requires a minimal amount of heat to
    > create the free electrons to conduct.

    No, see my post#22 "Not enough free electrons?" below :-).
  • suffering radiation burns and maybe even a long and slow painful death Um, what are you talking about.... the radiation from a 2Ghz chip, while in the microwave range, is not going to be enough to be dangerous from a RF heating standpoint. If it were radiating that much RF energy, it would cause arching all over the place, just like when you put a spoon in a microwave.

    Besides, you are confusing ionizing radiation with non-ionizing radiation. Either your post was made out of ignorance, or it was a really bad joke.
  • I think that what happened was they over-cooled the CPU to the point where it was unreliable.

    See, every overclocker knows that semiconductors have a maximum temperature at which they will operate reliably. But few realize that there is also a minimum rated temperature. I don't remember the exact ranges, but mil-spec parts are rated for a much lower minimum temperature range. I seem to recall that one of the minimum ratings (probably the "regular" one) is -50C. So the dry ice/flourinert may have been the perfect mix after all, with the pour temperature of the flourinert keeping everything (except the 3-D card which they weren't overclocking anyhow) at the perfect temperature, and keeping the cool temperature snug against all the important parts.

    Too bad they didn't try to see how fast they could clock it at -46C before trying the LN2. Maybe they can do that for the sequel.
  • Do you have a URL for this type of product? It sounds very interesting.
  • If I remember correctly they did check the freezing point. But freezing point and pooring point are two different things.

    Johan V.
  • But New Zealanders are not Aussies.

    No, they're not. hence the reason that i said "why does all this come from Autralia or NZ" (or similar).

    And while we're at it - count yourself lucky! Most we don't have general access to Cable, or ADSL - most of us are still using a 56.6K Dialup!

  • You are probably going to get mad about this and I expect flames...but who cares about overclocking anymore? I mean, machines are so fast now it just doesn't seem worth the hassle.

    I am like you. I do want more speed. But it isn't worth the trouble. If I have a real speed need, I just wait a few months for the next boost in speed. I can play all my games, I can use all of my current software, and I have no real need for more speed at this time.

    Caveat: More speed for the sake of more spped is silly, but more speed because it is a challenge is cool. I'm just against overclocking as a way to improve speed. If you do it, it should be for the geek challenge of it. Or because you want to Raise Your Middle Finger to the Man (TM).

    John S. Rhodes
    Industrial Strength Usability []
  • they can clock as much as they damned well want but i'd like to see the day they outperform my C64....

    "But Doctor, if they take away my head surely I'll die?"
  • Well, I, for one, know when *I* think of supercooling something, the first thing I reach for is LN2. heh. Ever since DuPont brought thier chemists into my elementary school gymnasium, and froze things in LN2, then shattered them on the floor, I've been fascinated. The movie where Wesley Snipes gets frozen then shattered in the end didn't help matters. heh.

    Good luck to this guy. He does some interesting work, and while LN2 won't be on EVERYONE's overclocking list, I'm looking forward to seeing what this guy can do in the future.

  • I wonder what would happen to the system when I mitakenly spill my coffee into the case...hmm...ultra fast comp and ice cream maker in one!
  • It's silly that they didn't even checked the freezing point of fluorinert before their first attempt... reminds me of the guys who wrapped their whole computers in a 2mm thick plastic bag, includint CPÜ and heatsink, then poured liquid nitrogen on the plastic which turned brittle as hell... I want to see non-halfbaked non-destructive mad overclocking for once!
  • Why is it when I submurge my head in 3 degree water tempratures I don't think any faster?
  • If you do it, it should be for the geek challenge of it.

    Doing what they did, you have to agree it does sound like they did it for the geek challenge of it, and not to play games faster.

  • Not only is it amazing that these guys have got a processer to overlock to 1057MhZ at less than -43 degrees Celcius BUT they're also from New Zealand. Why is that everything's now coming from Australia and New Zealand - samba did, and Linus got his inspiration for a penguin logo for linux while in Australia

    GO AUSSIES!!!!

  • True! But my comment was a general comment.

    John S. Rhodes
    Industrial Strength Usability []
  • I think the average home overclocker, besides enjoying the challenge, is trying to get the most speed for his/her money.

    If you can buy a celeron 366 for almost nothing and put together a nice cooling system you may be able to achieve the speed of a significantly more expensive CPU...

  • But New Zealanders are not Aussies.

"Experience has proved that some people indeed know everything." -- Russell Baker