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Kronos cooling run at 8.5kilo-volts to cool a device 25 degrees Celsius - Image courtesy
Kronos Advanced Technologies claims that's the way we're headed

Lately, heatsinks and traditional fans have become so large that they are beginning to be obstructive and are sometimes too heavy. This is an issue on the graphics processor front in many ways, as there isn't enough room for large heatsinks, yet GPU thermal exceeds that of high-speed CPUs.

A company called Kronos Advanced Technologies is working on a method of removing heat from devices such as CPUs by using ionic discharge to create a fluid motion of air. This technology has been around for a few years and is used in products such as ionic air filters, which have no moving parts but still move volumes of air and create quite a strong breeze. The same concept is being applied to micro processor cooling.

Despite the advancement however, the volume of air moved over the CPU core is still small because the core surface area is small. Heatsinks are used to increase surface area of the hot surface, so that when air is moved over the fins, more heat can transfer to the air. The Kronos' device will attempt to remove hot air away from the processor core directly without the need for heatsinks. With this method, the velocity of air being moved needs to be extremely fast in order to compensate for the lack of surface area -- and speed is something that ionic air "movers" lack.

Right now, Kronos is still working on prototypes, which it claims are scalable from very small micro coolers to large scale sizes. Power requirements also appear to be quite steep at this point in time. One of Kronos' demonstration shows a heated area being reduced from roughly 50C to 25C using an ionic cooler, but the power supply required around 8.5kV, or 8500 volts, to stay stable.

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Use what is already there
By iNGEN on 1/7/2007 1:03:29 PM , Rating: 2
I don't get it. We encase the operating parts of our machines in a, relatively speaking, great big chunk o'metal right now. Am I the only one who hasn't overlooked the tremendous surface area it presents, not to mention a significantly larger thermal mass than a common heatsink.

Why not loose the window and turn the side panel into a giant heatsink. Ad a few fins to the outside,some sort of thermal conductor (heatpipes, water lines, etc.), maybe a small pump if necessary, and "presto chango" no more cooling problem. At a lab I worked in we used 8"x8" TEC panels (they cost under $100 in 1997). You could even add a TEC layer in enthusiast cases to further increase thermal transfer.

When you need more surface area you can just make the side-panel cool graphics and chipset while the top-panel cools the CPU.

With the right design you could rely on convection and bouyance to provide all the air movement and end up with a silent system. Silent, not passive, only because a pump for the primary conductors might still be necessary.

Hell you could even ionize the panel for movement if you were so inclined.

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