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While the problem is not new, time has become of the essence in solving it, as chips just one-eighth-inch square soon will emit as much heat as a 100-watt light bulb, HP says.
High heat density from processors means high heat loads in servers. In turn, deploying a large number of servers in data centers leads to cooling challenges.
Cool Chips has designed a wafer-like device that sits on the precessor itself. A 10 nanometer gap in the cool chip causes electrons to tunnel across the gap using quantum mechanics.
The gap insulates so that heat doesn't return back through the gap, effectively dissipating it, the company says.".
"It's a little like having a party and you induce all the noisy people to go next door," says Chris Bourne, director of public relations for Cool Chips. "The party gets quieter in one room and the other room gets noisier."
Cool Chips says it hopes to ship products for servers and laptops in 2006.
Another start-up is taking a different approach: Engineers from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., formed Thorrn, which is developing technology called nano-lightning that creates wind currents that flow over the processor through microchannels. Thorrn says it expects to commercialize the technology for cooling laptop computers in 2006. The company's technology generates electrically charged atoms using electrodes. When electrons are discharged they interact with air and cause small gusts of wind that are then passed through microchannels to cool the chip.
"The idea is to make a very small direct air-cooled system," says Daniel Schlitz, president of Thorrn in West Lafayette. "We have replaced the fan with an ion-driven method of pushing air through a microchannel-based heat sink. We hope to be able to remove all the heat in the laptop with a very small package."
Schlitz says the company also is developing technology to cool blade servers.
Large chip manufacturers such as HP and IBM also are working on cooling their processors.
HP Labs is working on cooling chips with inkjet printing technology. The company has taken a printing cartridge and re-engineered
it into an efficient, inexpensive cooling device for semiconductors. The spray-cooling mechanism shoots a small amount of
dielectric liquid coolant onto specific areas of a chip. The liquid vaporizes on impact, cooling the chip, and the vapor is
then passed through a heat exchanger and pumped back into a reservoir that feeds the spray device. While HP would not comment
on when its servers will use this technology, Chandrakant Patel, distinguished technologist at HP, says that systems would
not need the
technology for at least three years.
|Hot on the trail
A variety of vendors are developing more efficient cooling for servers and laptop computers.