By Tom Henderson
A widely-accepted aphorism is that gaming and porn started the microcomputer industry--both of them entertainment, and both have their addicting qualities for some. While there's no real porn at CeBIT (unless you like multi-directional GIS displays), gaming is very real, and very well represented. There's an entire building dedicated to gaming, gaming technology, gaming competition, and these components can also be found at a healthy fraction of other buildings nearby the gaming center that contain interesting high-performance (read gaming) machines and peripherals.
Gaming 'winners' believe that every possible edge counts, and they're not superstitious. Instead, they are very loyal to one brand or configuration of equipment until they lose. Then there's the great hunt for the next state-of-the-art machine, with all the advantages that they believe will help them win again. Others are constantly hunting, weighing seemingly tiny, even miniscule advantages in esoteric combinations. And they're willing to put their money where their winning bet is in terms of tremendously expensive personal gaming components.
This fact isn't lost on a small, but very healthy vendor component segment that caters to the needs of the must-be-fastest contingent. And while that contingent is often profiled as a younger crowed, it's not necessarily so. If there's one place where a true geek can practice his/her art, the DIY machine builder community has all of the components needed to one-up everyone else if in non-trivial integration exercises.
Some of the motherboard makers are living (and perhaps dying) by their ability to be overclocked--the act of changing the CPU clock to make it work harder and react faster. It's risky, of course to do this as it causes heat rises that the CPU maker didn't design or intend the CPU to go through. Heat can literally crack CPUs, but long before that, they crumble into death.
Corsair, uber-fast memory makers, also contribute to the architectural contest. Imagine those DIMM modules you're using for memory right now. Imagine them re-engineered in highly-complex (yet slim) heat sink modules, specifically designed to assuage the incredible heat that overclocking can cook up. Corsair specializes in this area, and ostensibly has a huge market share in this segment (high-performance personal systems) that make companies like Kingston and others positively salivate.
But it's the motherboard design that's a key underpinning of the overclocker's paradise. I visited the Gigabyte booth, and trolled their delicious looking motherboards (yes, they're painted and gimmicked-up to look 'sexy') replete with optional water-chillers, and other methods of killing heat, before heat kills the motherboards, or 'mobos' as they're known as by overclockers.
None of them, however, had the guts of Foxconn, who brought tanks of LOx to chill their mobos . I'm not putting a tank in back of my house. I'm sure there's a zoning restriction, somehow.