Micro-Fridges Help CPUs Chill Out

As manufacturers rose to meet the demand for faster processors, chip performance was eventually hampered by extreme temperatures. The solution became multicore processors. Of course, we’ve developed our own cooling methods, using water, liquid nitrogen, or specialty coolants, to bring down their CPUs’ temps. Dr. Rama Venkatasubramanian, a senior researcher at RTI International, and a team of other researchers at Intel and Arizona State University, have stepped into this hot topic with a unique answer: micro-refrigerators that targetcool the hot spots. The researchers are looking at the brink of those multicores potentially facing similar thermal issues as in days of yore, with traditional heatsinks and fans still lacking the oomph to bring down temps of densely packed circuitry. “Our superlattice thin-film thermoelectric micro-refrigerators would help solve the problem of efficient thermal management of so-called hot spots on a high-performance chip,” says Venkatasubramanian. “Typical chips have highly non-uniform thermal maps, where some areas of intense computation run much hotter than others. “We can selectively cool these hot spots with our active cooling while the rest of the area is managed with standard heat removal means.” The micro-fridges are nano-scale (roughly 10 microns) and can be mounted on chips. Remarkably efficient, the micro-fridges essentially cool on demand and only use 2 to 3W when in use. Venkatasubramanian thinks a finished product could be available in 2011.

Source of Information : CPU Magazine 07 2009

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