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Is it ok to have 100% CPU usage constantly

I recently upgraded computers and with this upgrade I decided to try Seti@Home to run in the background. I was watching the CPU and monitoring how it works and when idle the CPU is running at 100% (due to Seti). But does drop down when I start to do things with the computer.

With the CPU running at 100% quite often can it damage the CPU over time? I want this computer to last as long as possible. The temps for the CPU when idling is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) and when at 100% averages 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit. (54 - 60 degrees Celsius) I am running an AMD FX 4100 CPU

The question is this: What is the impact of running the CPU at 100% for long periods at a time? Does this degrade the life of the CPU or other components like overclocking can/does?

EDIT- The original temps posed in this question where very low and were a faulty reading from a program. The correct temps are now in the question.

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marked as duplicate by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, ChrisF, Sathya Jun 1 '12 at 12:20

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Your idle temperatures are below room temperature here (it's also winter and cold). Your load temperatures are only slightly higher than my idle temperatures, and about the same when it's summer here. That's nowhere near the max limits of any consumer CPU. –  Bob Jun 1 '12 at 6:26
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If you're worried about over-working your CPU, then stop running SETI. What's the actual problem you're encountering? Are you asking if that's "Too hot" for that processor? Or do you just want to discuss the potential impact of using a CPU fully for long periods of time? If it's the later, than this is the wrong place to ask. –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jun 1 '12 at 6:27
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Those temperatures look more typcial for celsius units. Are you sure it's F? –  Keith Jun 1 '12 at 7:13
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Thats insanely cold. What's your ambient temperatures like? Your fully loaded temperature is what my c2d runs at normally, and its been going fine since 07. Also, what are you using to monitor your temperatures? –  Journeyman Geek Jun 1 '12 at 9:26

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The question is this: What is the impact of running the CPU at 100% for long periods at a time? Does this degrade the life of the CPU or other components like overclocking can/does?

To answer your question, yes.. running a cpu at full capacity for extended periods will shorten it's lifespan. A combination of heat and flow of electricity through the chip causes changes to the components within the chip at the atomic level, known as electromigration. Here's a brief (and very simplified) explanation:

This is when metal atoms wander into the dividing layers on a microprocessor. It is caused by the combination of electricity and heat. Processors are designed to run within certain heat and electrical specifications, and if run at higher heat and/or electrical specifications, electromigration may occur. If this occurs to a great degree and enough metal atoms wander off of the lines in a processor, they may permanently ruin the processor by thinning a connection so that it does not work effectively, or even making an electrical connection where one is not intended to be. Overclocking and raising voltage supplied to a processor increases the risk of electromigration.

http://www.geek.com/glossary/E/electromigration/

A more in depth explanation can be found here: http://www.csl.mete.metu.edu.tr/Electromigration/emig.htm

So taking this information into consideration we can deduce that more heat and more volts cause an increased level of degradation due to electromigration. Running the CPU at 100% means it will receive more volts and therefore more heat (for sustained periods), ultimately contributing to the shortened lifespan (literally speaking, without taking into account how long and how often these periods of activity occur). Of course, the point is almost moot because as you state, your temperatures are good and well within thermal limits so it would take a long time for the processor to degrade to the point of failure - i'd be more concerned about the electricity bill!

With regards to overclocking, to attain higher clocks - more volts are required at the expense of increased thermal output. Taking into consideration the information above, pushing more volts through a processor will cause the chip to degrade a lot faster (timescale obviously depends on the amount of volts and how the processor is used).

Hope this information helps answer your question..

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-1. The text that you quote is right: "Processors are designed to run within certain heat specifications; if run at higher heat specifications, electromigration may occur". That means that the correct answer is NO, there is no harm done from running at 40 degrees C. That is entirely within the designed heat specifications. –  MSalters Jun 1 '12 at 11:22
    
@MSalters - Read the answer again.... 'Of course, the point is almost moot because as you state, your temperatures are good and well within thermal limits so it would take a long time for the processor to degrade to the point of failure - i'd be more concerned about the electricity bill!' –  Dean Jun 1 '12 at 11:26
    
You're drawing the assumption that the safe heat level (below which the CPU isn't damaged) lies at less than 100% nominal CPU load. This is not supported by your quotes. It in fact suggests that there's no damage done until you overclock, and only then will the damage increase with voltage/heat. –  MSalters Jun 1 '12 at 11:31
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@Dean - There is no evidence that running a CPU at 100% load for 5 years would shorten its life from say 6 years. Since it is unrealistic to perform a scientific to prove your statements ( considering every single CPU dye is unqiue ) just don't make the claim. Please provide evidence of your claims. If you run the CPU within the specifications the lifespan in theory would not be reduced. It is not possible to estimate when a CPU will stop working. –  Ramhound Jun 1 '12 at 12:04
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@Dean: Essentially, heat (thermal energy) and voltage (electrical energy) cause electromigration by physically moving atoms outside their crystal position. If the available energy isn't high enough, the atoms will just bounce back to their initial lattice position. –  MSalters Jun 1 '12 at 12:17

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