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Let's take the Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 and P8600 for an example. Both have a 3MB cache and a 1066MHz FSB, but the P7350 runs at 2.0GHz, while the 8600 runs at 2.4GHz. Is there a tradeoff between heat generation and performance?

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Each year, Intel has either a "tick" (smaller silicon pathways) or a "tock" (new architecture). Each one reduces power consumption per performance. But within a generation, clock speed (or number of cores) does dictate power consumption and temperatures. When both clock speed and the architecture/process are different, you'll have to do some tests. – Nikhil Chelliah Aug 10 '09 at 17:32
@Nikhil: You missed out. If you'd posted that as an answer, you would have gotten quite a bit of rep! :) – Sasha Chedygov Sep 2 '09 at 21:47
They look all the same to me. – Mateen Ulhaq Jan 19 '12 at 3:41
@muntoo: groan – Matthew Pirocchi Jan 20 '12 at 2:27
up vote 23 down vote accepted

Yes! All else being equal (that's key), a processor with a higher clock speed will use more energy and therefore also produce more waste heat.

Sometimes manufacturers can redesign a processor in a more-efficient way, or move to a different manufacturing process, or other factors can influence how much waste heat is generated such that faster processor could even use less energy. But, given the critical "all else equal" condition, a faster processor runs hotter and there is a tradeoff between speed and heat/energy use.

In fact, there's a growing market out there for processors that are intentionally underpowered to serve as cpus in computers that don't need great performance.

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Not 100% always, my Pentium D runs MUCH hotter than a Core 2 Duo.... But the later P4's and PD's are from a generation of rubbish, energy inefficient room heaters! – William Hilsum Aug 10 '09 at 17:18
... but everything else you said is very good! – William Hilsum Aug 10 '09 at 17:19
@Wil, Methinks you misunderstand the concept of 'All else being equal' – Grant Aug 10 '09 at 17:32
Also, Apple CPUs run hotter than Orange CPUs. – Grant Aug 10 '09 at 17:33

The very short answer is YES!

Faster processors will indeed get hotter than a similar processor that is not running as fast.

Something to consider is the advances in materials science over the last 15 years. Much effort has gone into packing more transistors per cm on the chip, reducing power requirements and increases in efficiency which also reduce waste heat. So that being said, know that all processors are not equal at all.

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If you are comparing the processors using the same manufacturing technology and architecture, then yes.

But once you start comparing really old stuff to today of course it does not compare.

For example, a last few P4s are the hottest processor ever made, but they are much slower than your standard C2D which runs much cooler. In a few generations the same might occur. While improvement in manufacturing technology will generally reduce heat output, it also allows companies to fit more dies in the same area. What this means is the heat output might actually stay the same, but we'll definite have faster and faster processors.

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