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A power virus is a computer program that executes specific machine code to reach the maximum CPU power dissipation (thermal energy output for the central processing units). Computer cooling apparatus are designed to dissipate power up to the thermal design power, rather than maximum power, and a power virus could cause the system to overheat if it does not have logic to stop the processor. This may cause permanent physical damage. Power viruses can be malicious, but are often suites of test software used for integration testing and thermal testing of computer components during the design phase of a product, or for product benchmarking.
Stability test applications are similar programs which have the same effect as power viruses (high CPU usage) but stay under the user's control. They are used for testing CPUs, for example, when overclocking. Spinlock in a poorly written program may cause similar symptoms, if it lasts sufficiently long.
Different micro-architectures typically require different machine code to hit their maximum power. Examples of such machine code do not appear to be distributed in CPU reference materials.
- Ganesan, Karthik; Jungho Jo; W. Lloyd Bircher; Dimitris Kaseridis; Zhibin Yu; Lizy K. John (September 2010). "System-level max power (SYMPO): a systematic approach for escalating system-level power consumption using synthetic benchmarks". In proceeding of: 19th International Conference on Parallel Architecture and Compilation Techniques. doi:10.1145/1854273.1854282. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
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