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An Application Broke my Computer.. for a while

January 1, 2013
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I’d never seen software crash hardware, so this was kind of neat in an inconvenient way.  I was surfing the net then when I got the Black Screen of Death.  I thought I had a momentary power failure, but all the house clocks were unaffected.  It happened twice.

I was running BOINC in the background.  BOINC is a network computing application that loans unused computer power to grid computing applications.  I’d changed my application settings so BOINC could use my PC when I wasn’t using much of the processor power.  It did.  All 8 processors.  Maxed them out.  On comes the light bulb.

I take the box to the shop and blow the dust out of the fans and heat sink fins.  There is an embarrassing amount of dust clogging the CPU heat sink.  Dust rhinos, not dust bunnies.  Then I downloaded an app to measure PC temperatures and voltages.  I restart and then turn off BOINC.  The temperatures drop a lot.  There was a 30C drop in the cpu and core temperatures.  The four cores were running at 100C after I cleaned out the dust bunnies.  Now they are down to 70C.Capture

Lesson learned.  You can use so much processor power that your dirty system overheats!  No problems now, but I think I’ll cut BOINC back so it only gets a few of the processors at a time.  It would have been a true experiment if I’d taken temperatures before I cleaned the PC.

Stay clean.

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