web page copyright 2001 D. Glenn Arthur Jr., text (used by permission) by Bill Yerazunis, wsy@remove-this.merl.com
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The Silicon Valley Of The Dolls.

by Bill Yerazunis, aka Crash

It sounded so innocent.

I had known this guy a while.

"Hey, you wanna try the overclocking thing? If it doesn't work, you can just back off the clock, man. No harm."

And another friend... she says "yeah. I've done it plenty of times. It's great. Absolutely solid."

The first hit is always free.

So there we are, in the back corner of the lab... cranking up the clocks and fiddling with the core voltages and line impedances and...YESSSS!!! Read the meter, man, we're doing 150% of rated!

And right then, you get the rush.

If you've never felt the rush, there's no way I can ever explain it. At least not and get it right.

Imagine a simultaneous orgasm while riding the biggest drop on a rollercoaster while breathing pure oxygen and being applauded by an entire stadium full of fans.

It's like that.

No, it's better.

It's enough to become your baby-blue habit on the very first hit.

One date, and you're in love.

So, the very next day, I tottle over, still weak-kneed, and make my own connection. 300A, big fan, BH6 motherboard ("the overclocker's dream"), and 128 megs of error-correcting CAS-2 100MHz memory.

And in twelve hours, I get that rush again. 450 MHz out of a 300A. Runs Half-Life like a bat out of hell. My standings on the Big Spank deathmatch server jump from dead last into the top half.

Man, it can't get better.

Two hits, and you're thinking about buying a ring.

I definitely had a bunny-man on my back.

I didn't care.

The next day... yeah the NEXT DAY dammit, and I'm already jonesing to make the jump to 500 MHz... and another bud who's also got the habit calls me up.

"Hey mon, I wanna try drilling".

This is heavy stuff. Mainlining. Not just something you can back off if it doesn't work. Drilling a CPU, it's like neurosurgery. One slip, and it's game over, man.

"Can we use your lab? I don't have drills that small."

"I don't have any either. But I can score some, I think"

These are very tiny drills, to go right into the mounting of the CPU and make or break connections that the manufacturer never meant to be. Some are smaller than hairs.

They even look like hypodermic needles, dammit.

We made the connection. Two CPUs. Top-line SMP motherboard. Big box. Much juice. Space for extra fans. Hell, space for a chiller if we need it.

This is not just chipping.

This is it, man. Heavy business.

Back in the lab. First test our stash. One CPU goes to 450 on the straight, no mods needed!

YOW! It's our lucky day!

The rush starts building.

The second CPU won't even pass self-test at default. Screw it. Back to our supplier. He tests it, says it's fine. We say "not in our motherboard, it isn't".

He swaps them.

The new one passes at default, but not at 450.

Time to jack power.

The motherboard won't cooperate. So out come the knives, and we cut into the CPU pinout. To cheat, to tell the motherboard "No, dammit, I want more power!"

Three cuts later, and we're at 110% of rated voltage and get 150% of rated speed.

More rush... it's building. We aren't even close to done.

And we both realize about then that we're hooked. What used to be plenty is now just enough to whet our appetite.

Acclimatization response.


We just want more. We don't care what gets in the way.

Time to drill.

And we fuck up bad. We both agree precisely on where to drill... and we're both precisely wrong. BAD.

The CPU still runs, but we need to solder to a wire that now ends nearly two millimeters inside the CPU module.

No way, man. The Man is here for you. That electrode is as far away as the Marianas Trench.

Bigger drill. Measure again, where else can we drill and how far? Can we get to the wire we need?

Yeah. We drill again, cutting away to all the adjacent pins. It takes an agonizing hour to cut millimeters in each direction, sometimes with drill bits, sometimes with scalpels or dental picks.

And at the bottom of the crater is our copper.


My buddy holds the wire and the needle-iron; I stretch the solder out to be as thin as I can, and then jab it for just a moment into the crater.

A tiny puff of smoke.

And the wire holds.


And it passes power-on-self-test. And it boots.

And it effing runs linux SMP at 900 BogoMIPS!

And we're eating over the chassis, and I get the shakes and spill Kraft mac-n-cheeze onto the disk array, and I say oh shit, I spilled mac-n-cheeze in there, and my buddy just doesn't care, so I don't care either.

And we end up still hacking at 4:30 AM.

And the next day is hangover. Hell squared... but we don't care.

We're both totally fucked up on this. And we just don't care.

- Crash

Text copyright 1999 by Bill Yerazunis.

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