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Liquid Cooling Built Into a Chip

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:16AM

We all know that proper cooling our components is critical for achieving and maintaining the best possible performance, which is why some of us turn to liquid cooling solutions. As impressive as some of our setups may be though, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have likely topped anything we have. The researchers delidded an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) device and etched cooling passages directly into the silicon to bring the cooling water to within a few hundred micros of the transistors.

To continue increasing the performance of various computer chips, transistors and other components are being made smaller and are being packed more tightly together. Along with the increase in performance, improvements in heatsinks must come as well, which can be problematic as these better heatsinks would likely need more power and be larger in size. This is why the researchers decided to try bringing the heatsink closer to the components. After removing the stock heatsink and heat-spreader, the researchers etched passages into the silicon for water to flow through and added silicon cylinders, to further improve heat transfer. A layer of silicon was then placed over the passages and ports were attached for the water tubes.

When tested, this cooling system kept the device at 24 ºC using 20 ºC inlet water, while an air-cooled device came in at 60 ºC. The FPGA device the researchers used was made by Altera Corp. and while they only worked with this device, this work can be applied to other computers, including CPUs, GPUs, and more.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

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