Surviving the Cold Snap

January 7, 2014 3:22 pm

When it gets cold – The Cool Revolution

There are times when it gets REALLY  cold.  Today was one such day.  It seems as if my office overlooking a frozen lake was like the place on left.  The funny thing is that while humans don’t like the cold, computers do, so long as  they are not in a moist environment.  The “cool air” is far preferable to the amount of heat generated by CPU processors, graphic processors, and memory cards.  In fact, there is a revolution going on in the computer industry that deals with “heat dissipation”.  Intel and Apple have been running chips that run “colder”.  They have found that these chips use less energy, and allow the circuits to be packed denser in the same space.  In fact the  computers, because the distance between the circuits can be measured in microns (a very small unit of measure), will run faster, be able to run more computations in a millisecond, than older computers could run in several hours.

This “cool revolution” is also making the devices we work with smaller and more compact, able to be powered for long lengths of time with small batteries.  It is even possible to have “self-powered” watches that convert  the motion of ones arm into sufficient energy to run the device.  I have a wireless keyboard from Logitech that runs on “solar energy”; there is a small panel above the function keys that contains a photo-voltaic cell that converts my desk light and ambient light into sufficient energy to  run the keyboard without supplemental energy.

The “cool revolution” is behind Google Glass and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.  It allows us to have solid state hard drives that don’t crash or break, and  give us near instant file access and network login.  Ironically, energy efficiency used  to be something that “liberals” worried about, those of the “save the planet” variety.  But what they knew, and others seemed to ignore, is that “energy efficiency” actually has a high dividend.  It spurred invention and innovation.  It fostered technology that created whole new markets and capabilities that used to be the world of science fiction.

Look at LED lights.  They use 1/10 the energy of incandescent bulbs, and they NEVER go out.  That means, once installed,  you do not have to replace them for a long time.  They generate less heat, which means in summer, you have less to cool.  They give off clean white light, or, at a flick of a switch, whatever color you want.  And, since there is a “controller” embedded in the bulb, you can WiFi enable the bulb and tie it into a network.  With the new IP connected bulbs, you can now monitor your house from a distance, setup a pattern of light changes to deter burglars, or program bulbs to turn off when no  one is in the room.

So as you huddle indoors, keeping out of the cold on these frigid nights and days, think what the “cold revolution” has brought us so far, and will do so in the future.

 

Seth Rowland
This post was written by Seth Rowland
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