Summer is almost over (at least in the northern hemisphere), but there are still many hot spots. Where? Inside your computers.
Some of you might remember that I talked about the concept of liquid-cooled laptops some weeks ago. (Check "Hitachi Introduces a Water-Cooled Laptop (No Kidding!)" for details.)
Ken Popovich comes back to the cooling issue with this article.
Computer makers are beginning to feel the heat, quite literally, as faster -- and hotter -- running microprocessors and compact computer designs are pushing the limits of what fan-based cooling systems can handle.
Within three to five years, researchers at Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM predict, computer makers will have to move beyond fans and adopt cooling systems such as radiators and micro-refrigerators within systems to avoid potential meltdowns.
Even with those technologies, Intel said it expects its processors will begin to exceed existing thermal limits and, as a result, is also suggesting ways computer makers can redesign their systems to deal with hotter chips. One design Intel is pushing features liquid-filled tubes, like radiators, designed to draw away heat from processors.
While liquid-based solutions are a logical successor to air-cooled designs, said Tomm Aldridge (director of enterprise architecture at Intel Labs, in Hillsboro, Ore), a number of issues need to be resolved before such solutions can be implemented.
And now, let's go for the fun part.
In the Pentium 4, for example, the core temperature can climb close to 200 degrees, about the boiling point of water. And over the coming years, the core temperatures of Intel's PC and server processors are expected to climb further.
Intel itself warned that processors are nearing the melting point. Last year, the company's chief technology officer, Pat Gelsinger, said that based on current manufacturing technologies, temperatures inside chips would run as hot as a nuclear plant by the end of 2005 and produce heat equivalent to a rocket booster in 2010 -- theoretically, anyway.
It's always amazing to read this kind of forecasts. As Popovich writes, it's based on current technologies, not the ones to come. So it's totally invalid.
Source: Ken Popovich, eWEEK, September 2, 2002