Apple's new i9-equipped MacBook Pro reportedly has trouble dissipating heat from the powerful new Intel chip, slowing it down and erasing its advantage over lower-end models under sustained load. The fetish for thin and light laptops has screwed us, writes Owen Williams, and it's not just Macs.
As our expectations have shifted for how we get work done with computers, it’s become popular to try and foist even the most demanding workloads—like video rendering, software development, and high-end gaming, on laptops. It’s been a fun shift to be a part of, and the things you can do with a laptop now are wild: VR on the go, or rendering motion graphics on a train, but for day-to-day, the shift has messed with our perception of what ‘performance’ means.
Desktop computers faded in popularity over the last decade, but many of the tasks we’re demanding from our laptops simply can’t compete with the raw power of a desktop in the physical constraints of their form factors. The problem, almost always, comes back to heat: there’s too much of it, and not enough space to get rid of it.
Not mentioned in Williams' article is the Razer Blade: as thin and light as a MacBook and easily the most attractive gaming laptop going, but so hot Wirecutter excluded it and its entire category from their gaming laptop roundup.
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The Blade’s surface temperatures, though, were simply unacceptable. As you can see in the chart above, the Razer’s WASD keys were a sweat-inducing 43 °C (109 °F), the K key was 49 °C (120 °F), the strip of metal above the keyboard was a scalding 54 °C (129 °F), and the underside of the chassis was 52 °C (125 °F).
YouTuber SolarColorDust likes to coat things in thermochromic dust (the kind in mood rings and some thermometers). Here's a stormtrooper helmet. Read the rest
The state of Tennessee extended its "Good Samaritan law" this month, allowing people to smash a car window to save a dog from dying in a hot car.
“If you act reasonably, as any reasonable person would respond, you will not be at fault to save a life," says Nashville Fire Department Chief of Staff Mike Franklin. "You will not be at any fault to save a life and/or animals."
Apparently, acting "reasonably" includes first searching the for car's owner and calling police. I don't think I'd waste the time.
According to the Humane Society, "On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die."
"It’s Now Legal to Break Into Cars to Save Dogs in Tennessee" (TIME)
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I'm not a big fan of AC. It's not an ideological thing for me (although it's hard for me to not be aware of how much energy those systems draw). Instead, it's mostly about comfort. Air conditioned spaces usually feel too cold to me, and too stuffed up. I'd prefer to have the fresh air and the open windows. Of course, there are some days when that's not exactly comfortable, either. Treehugger has a slideshow that can help. It's filled with tips for changing your lifestyle and your home to make things more comfortable at higher temperatures, reducing the number of days when you actually need the AC. This isn't all stuff you can do in a day — for instance, it will take a while to get a good shade tree outside your house — but the suggestions are interesting, and helpful, and most of them are focused cheap and simple, rather than high-tech and costly. Read the rest
Yesterday, Australia experienced its hottest nationwide average temperature ever — 40.33 degrees C (104.6 degrees F). Today, the country's national weather bureau added a new color to official weather forecast maps, reflecting a need to predict temperatures higher than 52 C (125.6 F). Insert your Spinal Tap jokes and terrified flailing here. Read the rest
JPL Climatologist Bill Patzert, on the current wildfire outbreak in the Western United States, and the role of climate change: "What's really changed in recent years is that there are more and more people building and living at the urban/wildland interface, so the human impact is greater every time these great fires erupt (...) Looking to the future, the uncertainties of human-influenced climate change will play a stronger and stronger role, and rewrite our fiery history." More here. Read the rest
Server farms generate so much heat that they have to run air conditioning year round. That requires energy, which costs money and tends to mean burning more fossil fuels. Meanwhile, in winter, a lot of houses are cold. The people who live there have to turn on the heat, which costs money and tends to mean burning more fossil fuels.
So here's an idea: Why not distribute the hardware from a server farm, putting heat-producing equipment in houses that actually need the heat?
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If a home has a broadband Internet connection, it can serve as a micro data center. One, two or three cabinets filled with servers could be installed where the furnace sits and connected with the existing circulation fan and ductwork. Each cabinet could have slots for, say, 40 motherboards — each one counting as a server. In the coldest climate, about 110 motherboards could keep a home as toasty as a conventional furnace does.
The rest of the year, the servers would still run, but the heat generated would be vented to the outside, as harmless as a clothes dryer’s. The researchers suggest that only if the local temperature reached 95 degrees or above would the machines need to be shut down to avoid overheating. (Of course, adding a new outside vent on the side of the house could give some homeowners pause.)
According to the researchers’ calculations, a conventional data center must invest about $400 a year to run each server, or about $16,000 for a cabinet filled with 40 of them.
A word of caution to people who consume illegal stimulants and those who regularly take legal ones to treat the symptoms mental health issues, like ADHD or depression. Research is showing that, during heat waves, there is an increased risk of death among stimulant users. It's a small increase—Time magazine reported that "for every week that the temperature exceeds 75 degrees Fahrenheit, New York City will experience two extra cocaine-related deaths." And it seems to affect people taking particularly high doses. But, depending on the dosages you normally take, it could be a risk worth taking into account.
Heat and high doses combine in dangerous ways for a couple of reasons:
First, stimulants themselves raise body temperature, which is not what you want during a heat wave. They also interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature to cool itself down. The high body temperatures that result are one way that stimulant overdose kills—so extra heat makes matters worse.
Secondly, chemical reactions that injure or kill brain cells can occur when high doses of these drugs are taken. These may be more toxic when the temperature is higher. High doses of stimulants cause excess release of dopamine and glutamate— if these levels get high enough, the resulting chemical reactions can be deadly to cells. That process may increase overdose risk as well as contributing to long-term harm in those who survive.
Via All Things Human
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