Friday, July 15th 2011

New Sandia CPU Cooler Design Offers Fundamental Breakthrough in Heat Transfer

Sandia National Laboratories has developed a new technology with the potential to dramatically alter the air-cooling landscape in computing and microelectronics, and lab officials are now seeking licensees in the electronics chip cooling field to license and commercialize the device.

The “Sandia Cooler,” also known as the “Air Bearing Heat Exchanger,” is a novel, proprietary air-cooling invention developed by Sandia researcher Jeff Koplow, who was recently selected by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to take part in the NAE’s 17th annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium.

Koplow said the Sandia Cooler technology, which is patent-pending, will significantly reduce the energy needed to cool the processor chips in data centers and large-scale computing environments. The yearly electricity bill paid by the information technology sector in the U.S. is currently on the order of seven billion dollars and continues to grow.

Dramatic improvements in cooling, other benefits
In a conventional CPU cooler, the heat transfer bottleneck is the boundary layer of “dead air” that clings to the cooling fins. With the Sandia Cooler, heat is efficiently transferred across a narrow air gap from a stationary base to a rotating structure. The normally stagnant boundary layer of air enveloping the cooling fins is subjected to a powerful centrifugal pumping effect, causing the boundary layer thickness to be reduced to ten times thinner than normal. This reduction enables a dramatic improvement in cooling performance within a much smaller package.

Additionally, the high speed rotation of the heat exchanger fins minimizes the problem of heat exchanger fouling. The way the redesigned cooling fins slice through the air greatly improves aerodynamic efficiency, which translates to extremely quiet operation. The Sandia Cooler’s benefits have been verified by lab researchers on a proof-of-concept prototype approximately sized to cool computer CPUs. The technology, Koplow said, also shows great potential for personal computer applications.

Broader energy sector applications

The Sandia Cooler also offers benefits in other applications where thermal management and energy efficiency are important, particularly heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC). Koplow said that if Air Bearing Heat Exchanger technology proves amenable to size scaling, it has the potential to decrease overall electrical power consumption in the U.S. by more than seven percent.

Companies interested in licensing the Sandia Cooler are invited to review and respond to the solicitation through July 15. The solicitation can be found here. Although it is first focused on licensing opportunities in the field of electronics chip cooling, Sandia will soon establish a separate process for exploring partnering and/or licensing opportunities in other fields.

A technical white paper on the Sandia Cooler technology can be found here.

Sandia’s work on the cooler technology was funded initially through internal investments. Follow-on funding is also being provided by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
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42 Comments on New Sandia CPU Cooler Design Offers Fundamental Breakthrough in Heat Transfer

#1
micropage7
its like previous intel stock cooler with improvement
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#2
laszlo
interesting ;found no infos to can compare what TPD is capable to held seems we have to wait till a review is made


micropage- this has nothing to do with conventional cooler where the fins are not moving
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#3
Sinzia
Take the fan off the cooler, and think of the heatsink itself spinning like a fan.

I'd be scared of reaching in while the PC was on, however.
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#4
seronx
Don't poke it!

It will turn your hand into mulch
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#5
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
ooo, it can double as a lawn mower!
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#6
RejZoR
It should work pretty well for a juicer. Just toss in some oranges and apples and voila, multi vitamin drink is ready. Just don't poke it or you'll get some bloody mary...
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#8
Sinzia
I'm already prone to cutting my fingers open on cases and stuff, seems any time I work on a pc, I get a cut somewhere.

I'd love to see a "review" of it from a testor.

Who does the HSF reviews for TPU?
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#9
AnnCore
Staff
Stubby

In the 2nd pic, is he hiding his fingers so we don't see all the band-aids due to cuts or is it that he just doesn't have any finger tips left?

Hopefully, we'll see this on the market sooner than later!
Posted on Reply
#10
RejZoR
I wonder how they made an efficient contact on the spinning part. I mean efficiently transfering heat was always a problem and i'd really like to know how they solved this part considering the actual fins are spinning...
Posted on Reply
#11
laszlo
by: RejZoR
I wonder how they made an efficient contact on the spinning part. I mean efficiently transfering heat was always a problem and i'd really like to know how they solved this part considering the actual fins are spinning...
if you look carefully at the 1st picture you'll see that is no contact between the spinning part and base;is a air gap of 0.001" between them;more info if you open the white paper inside the post
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#12
Velvet Wafer
by: RejZoR
I wonder how they made an efficient contact on the spinning part. I mean efficiently transfering heat was always a problem and i'd really like to know how they solved this part considering the actual fins are spinning...
there is effectively an air gap between the base and the fins, even tho its just a few microns wide... could be made more efficient tho i guess, by using some kind of water or very liquid TIM between Base and Fins (air is not very good at transferring heat)....
will be Rev.2 of the Sandia Coolers i guess!:laugh:
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#13
Thrackan
I'm eagerly awaiting more news on this project, it looks very, very promising!
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#14
Nothgrin
The key question to ask is "What happens when the motor fails?"
All moving parts have a MTBF so if the motor fails will it still be efficient enough to keep going or will it cause a catastrophic spike in the cooling efficiency?
Posted on Reply
#15
Thrackan
by: Nothgrin
The key question to ask is "What happens when the motor fails?"
All moving parts have a MTBF so if the motor fails will it still be efficient enough to keep going or will it cause a catastrophic spike in the cooling efficiency?
Well, if the fan on your Intel Stock cooler fails, you're in trouble too. Luckily, lots of processors throttle down or shut down when the temps get too high.

A better question would be: when will the motor fail? But we won't see the answer until this is beyond prototype stage unfortunately...
Posted on Reply
#16
Nothgrin
by: Thrackan
Well, if the fan on your Intel Stock cooler fails, you're in trouble too. Luckily, lots of processors throttle down or shut down when the temps get too high.

A better question would be: when will the motor fail? But we won't see the answer until this is beyond prototype stage unfortunately...
Well in the description above they mention Centrifugal pumping effect and high speed rotation as key factors of the cooling.

Your typical aftermarket heatsink works quite well without a fan as well. Albeit you wouldn't want to run your CPU at those temps for long.

By the looks of it if that became stationary the fins are too thick to provide enough heat dissipation. The more surface area the better it would perform.
Posted on Reply
#17
Thrackan
I'd say it either shuts down in 10 seconds or 2 minutes, but both are failing. I'd love to see how a version with thinner, higher fins performs though, but that will shred your hands off :D
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#18
qwerty_lesh
real question is, how much is this theoretical improvement going to become real world.
look at those stupid flop liquid metal coolers that were all the hype a few years ago.

look at the carbon nano fiber ocz hydro(hydra sp? bleh!) that came before the failed liquid metal ones.

how bout those micro corona fans that were going to revolutionise how chips were cooled? I read that article on here ages ago and yet you hear nothing about stuff like that.

my point is, you see all this new tech, more then half of it doesn't become a mainstream reality, and the half that does usually flops significantly compared to when you read about it when its in a proto/conceptual phase of r&d. :slap:
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#19
Jonap_1st
interresting..

so basically they try keep rotating cool air with impeller / fin to entire plate surface rather than just passed it through like conventional / stock hsf.

but i think it kinda have downward, because hot air that blows through the fin will still spreading inside the case, rather than just exhausted it directly through rear or top fan like tower hsf does..
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#20
pantherx12
Looks cool, don't think it will work with enthusiast parts though.
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#21
Jetster
I think you would get more heat transfered threw the shaft on the motor and bearing then the 1 thousand of an inch gap. BTW I don't think a .001 " gap is realistic. Not to prevent rubbing with expansion and contraction due to heat. That that would be more precise than a German performance car
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#22
Aleksander
What i got from the photo it cools 15C
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#23
micropage7
by: Velvet Wafer
its very different in comparance to ordinary coolers, take the time to look further into it, then you will see, that its not even a bit like the HSFs were used to;)
yep different, but the fin design is pretty familiar for most of us
Posted on Reply
#24
Velvet Wafer
by: micropage7
yep different, but the fin design is pretty familiar for most of us
yeah, the fins beeing winged may be the only comparative element....besides of that, sandia coolers have no resemblance to intel stock coolers...not by design, nor by functionality ;)
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#25
lilhasselhoffer
Good idea, but is the thing going to work in the field?

0.001" is a heck of a tolerance to maintain, and given the fact that the air bearing is what functions as a heat transfer media you're dealing with a surface that needs uniquely precise (for consumer grade motors anyway) manufacturing tolerances.

Is it interesting, yes. Is it practical, that remains to be seen. Are we going to see it soon, not likely. White papers are interesting, but of little use until someone licenses the technology for production.
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