Researchers provide a chill to fan-cooled PCs

Researchers at Intel and Purdue University are pursuing air-cooling technology that can make chips 200 percent cooler.

Researchers at Purdue University and Intel have developed heat dissipation technology that can boost the performance of chip-cooling systems by up to 200 percent.

The researchers are developing ionic wind engines, devices that work with current air-cooling technologies like fans and heat sinks. The devices pass an electrical current to stir up stationary air molecules, leading to better air flow and dissipation of heat.

"To date, we have demonstrated that the technology can enhance fan cooling by more than 200 percent," said Suresh Garimella, professor at Purdue University, who is also a researcher on the project.

Current air cooling technology is attractive because of its cost advantages and ease of implementation, Garimella said. However, fans and heat sinks can't manage all the heat generated by chips.

Ionic wind engines can be placed on a chip or a laptop to complement the current air-cooling technology to better manage heat dissipation, avoiding the need to switch to alternative, costlier cooling approaches like liquid cooling, Garimella said.

"The ionic wind technology we are developing is designed to work in addition to conventional fan-driven methods, not necessarily as a replacement for current systems," Garimella said.

Ionic winds are generated when electrically charged atoms stir up air molecules, which normally are stationary. When a current flows from a negatively charged electrode to a positively charged electrode, it collides with air molecules, producing positively charged ions that move back toward the negatively charged electrodes, creating an ionic wind. When the ionic wind gets the air molecules moving, the air flow on the chip surface increases, leading to better heat transfer and dissipation.

The engines are small enough to be fabricated on a chip or laptop and can be selectively placed depending on air flow, Garimella said. The researchers are trying to miniaturize the millimeter-scale devices to micron-scale dimensions.

Size reduction is just one problem facing researchers in putting the engines to practical use. Portable platforms pose a challenge as there is limited space for cooling systems, he said. Moreover, as chips become faster the amount of heat that needs to be removed increases, which increases the challenge to cool down a laptop and its surfaces, Garimella said.

"We are currently dealing with challenges to demonstrate the viability of the technology at the micro scale, and these must be overcome before the technology can be brought to market, at least for the chip-cooling arena," he said.

Garimella couldn't comment on when the technology will reach chips, but he noted some inherent advantages over alternatives like liquid cooling.

"Although liquid cooling typically provides higher heat removal rates, air cooling technologies are cheaper to implement and by using ionic wind engines, their cooling capacity can be enhanced," Garimella said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?