Capacitor life and failure of INTEL motherboards
DELL spent $300 million fixing PCes with failed capacitors (for those who don't know, DELL only uses old FSB based INTEL CPUs) . It was then reported that similar capacitor failures were common for HP's INTEL PCes. I have conjectured that the extreme heat from the INTEL CPUs are shortening the life of the capacitors on the motherboards.
According to this study by United Chemi-Con, "temperature (ambient temperature and internal heating due to ripple current) is the most critical to the life of aluminum electrolytic capacitors".
"Because a capacitor is essentially an electrochemical device, increased temperatures accelerate the chemical reaction rates within the capacitor (usually a 10°C rise in temperature will double the chemical reaction rate). Therefore, higher temperatures cause accelerated changes in decreasing capacitance and increasing tan d due to the gradual evaporation of the electrolyte through the capacitor seal".
So, in essence, higher temperature leads to faster evaporation of electrolyte inside the capacitor, and leads to dead capacitors. How much faster?
According to this study, when you increase the temperature by 10C, the weight loss of the electrolyte increases 1.9 times. In other words, 10C of temperature increase cuts the capacitor life by half. Needless to say, when the capacitor is dead, the motherboard is dead, and the system is dead.
Other factors, such as operating voltage and ripple-current also affects capacitor life.
As we can see from this test, INTEL's Pentium requires about 100 watts more than AMD64, thus generates more heat inside and outside the fragile capacitors, making INTEL systems less reliable.
According to some report, INTEL is switching to a different voltage regulator design, probably one without capacitors for the future Conroe and Merom systems.
Even though heat is not a problem for power efficient AMD64 CPUs, some Opteron boards already use digital VRMs.