Cooling Computers by Deleting Data?

Guest_Jim_* - June 1, 2011 06:57PM in Science & Technology

Before we get too far here, this is purely theoretical and is meant for supercomputers, not desktops.

We all know that as a computer runs, heat is released, or do we know that? Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have determined that it is possible to have computational processes that produce no heat, or even remove heat! The example they use in the article is the deletion of data. Here comes the science stuff.

In 1961 physicist Rolf Landauer determined that when data is deleted there is an increase in entropy, which is dissipated as heat. Fifty years later it has been theoretically determined that by perfectly knowing the data being deleted, there will be no increase in entropy and no heat. With the quantum-mechanical phenomenon of entanglement it is not only possible for the observer to perfectly know the data but to know it better than perfect, in terms of classical mechanics. With that super-perfect knowledge, deletion of data will result in negative entropy and heat being removed from the system!

Translation: the better you know what you’re deleting, the less heat will be released by deleting it. Quantum entanglement allows you to know the data so well that heat can be removed from the system. Unfortunately, this is working at the edge of the second law of thermodynamics, which states the entropy of the universe never decreases. We cannot break that law.