The average desktop or laptop PC usually lasts around 3 years before you have to get a new one or swap out parts. IEEE Spectrum has an enlightening article that reveals just how components actually age and some technologies that could gauge the decay.
IEEE Spectrum's story describes the various ways that chips and components age--and in some cases, fail. The story also describes how the semiconductor industry is beginning to take action by building chips that specifically test how the transistors they are grafted on function over time. These special chips called ring oscillators are built with inverter circuits chained into a loop.
Meanwhile, IEEE Specturm also developed its own silicon odometer with a tuned pair of oscillators. Intel is also getting into the game, with their own technology, code-named Foxton, which detects propagation delay along certain critical signal paths within a microprocessor
Be sure to check out the IEEE Spectrum’s full article on transistor decay; it's a good read if you're interested in this sort of thing.
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