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Is the performance of a CPU affected as it ages?

Even if we periodically cleared away all the dust in the CPU processor?

And if so, what is the rate of slow-down? Would we be able to see it in task manager?

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marked as duplicate by slhck Aug 3 '12 at 10:52

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Does the speed of electrons slow down with time? – Benoit Jul 24 '11 at 8:42
Technically, yes, due to increased thermal noise due to an effect called electromigraton which thins out the tracking in the semiconductor material, but the effect is so minute that for all practical purposes it can be ignored; hence this is a comment and not an answer – Linker3000 Jul 24 '11 at 9:56
WIkipedia aricle for those with an extreme curiosity: – Linker3000 Jul 24 '11 at 10:14
up vote 8 down vote accepted

No, the CPU runs at a fixed clock speed as determined by the BIOS and/or motherboard configuration. A build-up of dust on the CPU may cause it to overheat, which can eventually result in it locking up or failing altogether, but there will not be any gradual reduction in clock speed.

It is theoretically possible to have a CPU based on asynchronous logic with no fixed clock which could run as fast as the temperature would allow, but they are not used in any consumer machine that I am aware of.

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Good answer, but there is the caveat that some processors will downclock under thermal stress. (Usually these days they're just scaling the multiplier back so it's not quite technically changing the fixed clock speed, but still.) – Shinrai Aug 18 '11 at 20:38

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