I'm a newb that would like to exploit your experience on 'what happens when you do things wrong' .. in the sense of the worst possible damages you can produce. One does not enter the realm of C/C++ without meeting the concept 'memory-leaks' early on. I've always thought of it as a problem that would be zero'ed out when I exit an application .. conversely a problem that could grow during the lifetime of a session of using an app. Does this hold or am I wrong?
Using pointers may do damages .. but are any of them worse than what you can 're-install' yourself out of?
I am not sure what you are asking but when you are driving a gpu it is quite easy to hang your machine or create a rain of bits all over your screen.
Happily it's close to impossible to damage hardware this days with normal applications.
One main design of hardware and software this days is that non expected errors cause a shutdown. Because an halted/crashed program/computer is better then running a defect one that may destroy more data then you can lose during the shutdown.
Bugs in drivers and the operating system that you can trigger by API calls are the culprits this days that cause whole system crashes and security holes.
If you have sufficiently poorly built PC, you can overheat your GPU and kill it. My poor old HD 6450 died because I didn't have fans other than PSU.
I burned out my Nvidia card and destroyed my laptop working on an OpenGl app. Of course it didn't help that I had the laptop hidden below my desk at work, setup with a KVM switch so I could work on my game engine. Not enough space to vent properly, I think.
What can I say, some idiot decided we needed to stay till 10pm several days a week.
Haven't worked there for a long time.