Intel Tries to Keep Its Cool

Steve Pawlowski, the director of Intel's Microprocessor Technology Lab, knows Intel has a heat problem. As processors like Intel's Pentium 4 have increased in performance and power, they've also become generators of intense heat. Pentium 4 chips currently generate more heat than a kitchen hotplate and the company's projections show the heat generated by its processors will increase sharply in the coming years, perhaps rivaling the core of a nuclear power plant, unless solutions can be found to the problem.

The heat problem also has short-term implications. Growing demand for notebooks and computers used as home entertainment centers means Intel has to find ways to reduce and dissipate heat more efficiently and more quietly than ever before. "As Intel keeps increasing the speed [of its processors], that generates more heat," says Dorothy Lai, a semiconductor analyst at Garner Group Hong Kong. "The problem is that you can make a very big heatsink but you cannot use a very big heatsink as the product [the PC] is getting smaller."

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