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I'm looking to use my GPU for non-graphical calculations (artificial life simulations) but ideally I would like to leave this running for weeks at a time, 24 hours a day.

Is there anything I should take into account before trying this? Is a GPU subject to overheating or shortening of its lifespan by continuous use?

What about the computer in general (it's a laptop in my case, but I'm interested in the differences in case it's worth me getting a desktop computer for this)? Will running the GPU non-stop place any strain on connected parts of the computer? Are there known problems that result from this?

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  • $\begingroup$ you can get brutal shutdowns after the security threshold is passed. eletronics do weaken, condensers particularly. which diminishes power supply quality and have a variety of bad consequences. For ASICs electromigration is an issue, but usually after 30 years. $\endgroup$ – v.oddou Jun 21 '16 at 1:33
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Running a GPU at full capacity will reduce its lifespan through electromigration; the speed at which the chips are damaged depends on how hot it is.

A desktop computer has enough room that the designer can put in a cooling system to handle the worst-case thermal situation. Running your GPU at continuous full load won't overheat it too badly, and you can expect it to last several years.

A laptop, on the other hand, is strongly space-constrained. Typically, the cooling system is designed to handle brief bursts of heat interspersed with long periods of near-idle operation. You may not be able to run it at full load 24/7: the BIOS or operating system will slow things down to keep from overheating. In any case, running at full capacity will likely cause things to burn out in a year or less.

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No, and yes.

You're well advised to stay away from stress testing your GPU, or CPU, or any tool for that matter that can be exhausted. In this case it's your GPU, and it definitely can be exhausted.

That said, if you are using a GPU as a GPU, it's much like using a car as a car. If you use it appropriately it will last a long time and do it's functions, vice versa for inappropriate use.

Using the GPU a lot will put strain on the motherboard, i.e. physical connectors, PCI-e bus, etc. But so will using it once a week for a year. Overheating will only be a problem if your simulation is spending most if not all of the GPU's resources and a fault occurs in the cooling.

it's a laptop in my case,

I definitely would not run a laptop more than 12 hours a day without expecting a fast and hot demise.

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