# Thread: Speed of electrons in PC

1. Speed of light = 299,792,458 m/s

A Vast majority of people assume that the electricity traveling through their computers is traveling at either the speed of light or at near light-speeds.

This is NOT the case!

The speed of signals going through your processor are never greater than 200,000,000 m/s. Also, the hotter the processor gets, the slower the signals. Components such as resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors etc.. actually cause the signals to travel even slower. For instance, the speed of the electrons in your CRT monitor only travel approximately 30,000,000 m/s, that is 1/10th the speed of light! Add this to the length of wire the electricity is travelling through and you can see what I'm talking about!

The more circuits we can add to components, the more we can make the PC operate faster. If we could somehow use light for every component in the computer, we would need less total *"photo-circuits"* to achieve the same speed as a computer with way more electrical circuits.

Sorry about the rant, I just work in tech support and hear this all the time, "Why is my computer so slow? Isn't it operating as fast as light?"

I hear a lot more, it is true what most of those jokes and things you read about tech support say. It is so true it is not that funny to me anymore because you really do see it all... I can't count the times I heard people say, "there is something wrong with my modem!" then when I go to look at it they meant their actual Computer wasn't turning on. They call their computer a modem...they also call their monitor their computer...then I ask, "did you press the button on the monitor?" and I get "what button?", so i press the power button on the monitor and there's the windows login screen smiling right back...SIGH....

2.

3. You could use fibre-optic wires for your computer. :P (Well, maybe in the not too unforeseeable future.)

Even so, the signals wonâ€™t be travelling at the vacuum speed of light, only at the speed limited by the refractive index of the fibreglass (which will need to be of sufficiently high refractive index to make total internal reflection possible).

4. Originally Posted by JaneBennet
You could use fibre-optic wires for your computer. :P (Well, maybe in the not too unforeseeable future.)

Even so, the signals won’t be travelling at the vacuum speed of light, only at the speed limited by the refractive index of the fibreglass (which will need to be of sufficiently high refractive index to make total internal reflection possible).
Hi Jane, I read somewhere that they are working on fibre-optic systems. When they attain this, it will mean a ten to twenty-fold increase in computing speed. I'm waiting to have fibre internet, which is available now in some U.S cities!

5. Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
The speed of signals going through your processor are never greater than 200,000,000 m/s. Also, the hotter the processor gets, the slower the signals.
So super-cooling a computer will decrease the resistance... will it make much difference?

Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
The more circuits we can add to components, the more we can make the PC operate faster. If we could somehow use light for every component in the computer, we would need less total *"photo-circuits"* to achieve the same speed as a computer with way more electrical circuits.
Feasible but is it practical? What sizes/temps will this concept get up to? What I'm saying is, is it more efficient space/power-wise to use optical circuits?
Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
Sorry about the rant, I just work in tech support and hear this all the time, "Why is my computer so slow? Isn't it operating as fast as light?"
I'd love to hear that phone call... honestly never heard that one before...
Originally Posted by SuperNatendo
I hear a lot more, it is true what most of those jokes and things you read about tech support say. It is so true it is not that funny to me anymore because you really do see it all... I can't count the times I heard people say, "there is something wrong with my modem!" then when I go to look at it they meant their actual Computer wasn't turning on. They call their computer a modem...they also call their monitor their computer...then I ask, "did you press the button on the monitor?" and I get "what button?", so i press the power button on the monitor and there's the windows login screen smiling right back...SIGH....
Tempting to suggest Macs right now...

6. I feel for you Super. At our lab I seem to be the 'computer guy' everyone runs to with their problems. I am constantly amazed how otherwise intelligent people have no clue as to the basics of the operating system, much less the hardware. I'm talking about finding a file, copying and deleting, cut and paste, etc. Must be the black-box syndrome, where people just are not interested enough to learn anything about how their systems work, as long as the email and their favourite games run!

7. Yes, supercooling the processor will increase the speed above 200,000,000 m/s, but generally, in an avg person's system, that is pretty much the limit.

Macs are much better, than windows. A Mac's only downfall is they require you to run OS X on THEIR Computers, even though you can run it on other systems it is not considered legal...Often times, while their computers are engineered with components much better than some other manufacturers *cough* Dell *cough*, their hardware is simply too expensive to justify at times...(though I would LOVE a core2 duo MacBook Pro!!!) but personally I will never buy an OS again unless I am forced to!

I'm sticking with Linux.

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