Friday, February 29th 2008

MSI Working on ‘Powerless’ CPU Cooler

MSI has taken a step to try and reduce computer power consumption slightly by building a processor fan that is powered using only heat given off by the CPU. As the processor heats up, it causes air inside a piston to expand. That forces out the piston rod, which in turn causes the fan to spin and blow air over the heatsink, as shown in the first image below. This then helps to cool the air inside the piston, causing it to contract again, pulling the piston rod back in and cooling the CPU without needing any extra electricity. The technology is by no means a modern idea – it uses a mechanism invented in 1816 by Scottish engineer Robert Stirling - but it's never before been used on a large scale for computing purposes. MSI’s fan is capable of converting 70% of the heat energy given off by the CPU into kinetic energy, and the company plans to demo the cooler at next week’s CeBIT show in Hanover. However, there is no news of when this fan will become available for purchase, or what prices will be like.

Source: Reg Hardware
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54 Comments on MSI Working on ‘Powerless’ CPU Cooler

#1
tkpenalty
Its not so much saving power guys, the fact that the cooler keeps going AFTER you turn off the PC is good. This is a stirling engine anyway...
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#2
unsmart
It seems really gimmicky to me, cool idea but not useful in any real way. If you took the whole piston driven fan off and just went with the heatpipe passive heatsink on the NB you would be at the same temps with air flow from the CPU HSF. It look pretty large and problem expensive for what I'm thinking the benefits would be.
If it could be used in a laptop where every watt matters in battery life then it might be worth the added cost but in a desktop where your save maybe two cents off the electric bill a year:ohwell: Still cool though:D
Posted on Reply
#3
OnBoard
This seems like a great idea on NB. It will be silent when idle (maybe even passive) and with heavy gaming/OC it will cool the north bridge down. Powerless PWM :)

edit: then again I already have a passive NB heatpipecooler :)
Posted on Reply
#5
Wile E
Power User
twicksisted said:
thats ridiculous.... you know this whole "save the planet" get a wind turbine thing is just another way of getting you to buy into something else and create another market.

Wind turbines... need lead acid batteries... so you tell me whats got less of an environmental impact... using a bit of power from the socket on the wall or constantly buying lead acid batteries and dumping them in the skip when they finished.

also... im not sure that im sold on the idea of "low power equivalents" of CPU's and GFX cards... if something is to be powerfull and exude power, it needs power coming in...

I think that for everyday users who want to check emails and stuff then getting a clow power celeron is great... so is riding a bicycle to work if you dont already have enough stress in your working day to accomodate it.

Me personally.... I like powerfull things and im not bothered about how many watts my gfx card uses becuase I diddnt buy it to marvel about its efficiency... same goes for the rest of my rig.

I guess its like drag racers versus the totoya prius :P
Its what you bought it for and what you want it to do
Well said. This is exactly how I feel.
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#7
hat
Enthusiast
Gee the average reference CPU fan takes what like a tenth of a watt? Modern hard drives take like 3 watts. Correct me if I'm wrong.
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#8
cl4w
An old AMD boxed fan from a64 has 5 watt, but didn't think the msi fan is really powerfull. More than a whiff of air it won't do?!?
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#9
kakazza
hat said:
Gee the average reference CPU fan takes what like a tenth of a watt? Modern hard drives take like 3 watts. Correct me if I'm wrong.
You're wrong. That enough? :)

120mm fans are around 1-1.5W and 3.5" fans are around 6-8W (iirc), except for those new Western Digital Green Power drives.
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#10
candle_86
it is a very effiect design which i think is what they are going for actully, use the most of your systems power
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#11
Darknova
Wile E said:
Well said. This is exactly how I feel.
Same, except I DO buy into the "low power" versions of CPUs GPUs etc.

Why? Well they produce less heat, so in theory should overclock more than their less efficient partners.

I like my PC to be powerful, cool running, and near silent, and if "low power" variants get me that, bring it on! :D
Posted on Reply
#12
Seany1212
darknova i was going to say the same thing about the cpu constantly heating, and if the rpm does drop like you said then the air will continue to expand, possibly to the point where the valve blows as the heat energy will no longer be transferred into kinetic?
Posted on Reply
#13
Darknova
Seany1212 said:
darknova i was going to say the same thing about the cpu constantly heating, and if the rpm does drop like you said then the air will continue to expand, possibly to the point where the valve blows as the heat energy will no longer be transferred into kinetic?
No, that's very unlikely, even with lots of heat, air can only expand to a certain volume, it can't constantly expand.
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#14
DrunkenMafia
haahaaa, what a cute idea..

Now your pc can sound like a model train. If its got a piston and compression then its going to have noise... putt putt putt putt........ :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#15
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Doesn't it look delicate? I mean let the whole thing chew some dust and it will be stuck (the whole piston assembly) and then it won't cool anymore.
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#16
Unregistered
A Big passive cooler doesn't need energy either...
And it's very very very quiet too! :D:D:D
So I think this thing is pointless! Maybe when it's producing some energy!
Imagine small devices like that and the heat from the hole Rig powering my Lava Lamp! :D:D:D
#17
Paulieg
The Mad Moderator
regan1985 said:
if its more effective to cool a cpu that way then its a good idea,if it just saves evergy its pointless
Are you serious? Saving energy is pointless? :(
Posted on Reply
#18
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
moto666 said:
A Big passive cooler doesn't need energy either...
And it's very very very quiet too! :D:D:D
The core is that the component is cooled by transformation of energy from one form to another, heat > kinetic. So the thing stays cool. It's not that the fan spins and cools the fins primarily to cool.
Posted on Reply
#19
xfire
It might actually save more energy than a single fan as most of the heat is used up rather than sent into the cabinet, hence less number of exhaust fans are required, now rather than turning a fan if the heat emmited is used for something else like lighting up LED's etc, it would be better. One thing though even efficiency is less(70% in this case) it'll use up more energy making it more effective in cooling.
Posted on Reply
#20
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
btarunr said:
The core is that the component is cooled by transformation of energy from one form to another, heat > kinetic. So the thing stays cool. It's not that the fan spins and cools the fins primarily to cool.
Hi BTA ! How's it going?

Anyway, the Stirling engine runs more efficiently when there is a greater differential between the cool side and the hot side. This means that the cooling of the fins is critical in maintaining the efficiency of the device.

The problem with a device like this, is that it needs to be tuned to be as efficient as possible given the differential sources. I think it would work well if tuned for a system with all parameters known, but as soon as you throw OC'ing, or case cooloing variable, into the equation you will lose the "sweet spot" of efficiency.

Something more interesting about the Stirling engine is that it works in both directions. If you power the pistons, you can get a cryocooling effect on the cold side. I think this may be more interesting ot OC'ers than the "heat engine".

Physics FTW !!
Posted on Reply
#21
Bundy
Using a stirling engine is a great idea. I've been thinking that idea myself but instead of running a fan, i thought it might work more efficiently pumping coolant.

Stirling engines do have one significant problem though, they can tend to be slow to get going from cold. If a CPU got hot really quickly, the pump may lag too far behind and then make your day sad. Using a bigger capacity pump won't solve this issue as it will be even slower to get going. In this case, I think a substantial heat sink would be needed to ensure the temperature ripples are ironed out.
Posted on Reply
#22
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
Kreij said:
Anyway, the Stirling engine runs more efficiently when there is a greater differential between the cool side and the hot side. This means that the cooling of the fins is critical in maintaining the efficiency of the device.
The efficiency is what I doubt. A heatsink lasts forever (just that you have to clean its surface of the dust / oxide layer (in case of Cu heatsinks) affect dissipation). A fan-aided heatsink would mean the heatsink requires a fan to effectively cool....it boils down to the fan's life (10k~20k hours as marked on most fans). But with such a mechanism and in an environment such as a computer case, the issue would be keeping the engine running with the same efficiency (nearly) all the time which would mean....lubrication because you have far more moving parts and secondly, keeping the assembly clean all the time. Since the kinetic energy comes from a heat engine and not an electric motor, the kinetic energy is bound to be variable and weak. In other words, it would be easier for dirt/dust to stop the engine than an electric motor.

Kreij said:
The problem with a device like this, is that it needs to be tuned to be as efficient as possible given the differential sources. I think it would work well if tuned for a system with all parameters known, but as soon as you throw OC'ing, or case cooloing variable, into the equation you will lose the "sweet spot" of efficiency.
Agree.

Kreij said:
Something more interesting about the Stirling engine is that it works in both directions. If you power the pistons, you can get a cryocooling effect on the cold side. I think this may be more interesting ot OC'ers than the "heat engine".

Physics FTW !!
How? Are you trying to say that if I turn the engine using a external transmission such as a motor, it could cool better?

Kreij said:
Hi BTA ! How's it going?
Great, big papa :)
Posted on Reply
#23
Bundy
They do have poor efficiency but they are ULTRA reliable. Thats why they have been sucessfully used by the military for years. Most stirling engines have no valves and some designs have no moving parts at all (pumps only).
Posted on Reply
#24
Mussels
Moderprator
Mistral said:
Guess that gives the phrase "temperature controlled fan" a whole new meaning...:rockout:
+1 to that. woot woot.

hat said:
Gee the average reference CPU fan takes what like a tenth of a watt? Modern hard drives take like 3 watts. Correct me if I'm wrong.
what the guy below says, and hard drives use 5-15W (more on powerup than in use)

kakazza said:
You're wrong. That enough? :)
120mm fans are around 1-1.5W and 3.5" fans are around 6-8W (iirc), except for those new Western Digital Green Power drives.
^ what he said

as to the people who mention dust etc - they COULD use plastic casing around the moving parts. This may work better than we think, since the heat is what moves it, the heat is actually being used to power the fan, which cools it even more - its double action. Combine this with a full sized tower heatsink, and we could have a winnar.

Look at it this way - heatpipes and giant tower coolers were gimmicks when they first came out, and they're both widely accepted now. Hell, 3rd party cooling was unheard of when i started computing. Give this time, it could be part of a new shiny era of cooling.

Also, as said this will still run when the PC is off for a few minutes(?), which helps.
Posted on Reply
#25
aximbigfan
First off:
Everyone stop being hippies about this. Hippies smell bad.

The amount of energy this will save is negligible.

Second,
This is cool. I mean, really, if I could buy one of these separate, I would, as long as it had a connector with the tach wire.

Chris
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