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NASA chip can take the heat: 1,700 hours of continuous operation at 500 degrees Celsius

Heat is the enemy when it comes to silicon. One of the primary goals for system designers and overclockers is to find ways to keep chips cool, usually by relying on innovative, or extreme, cooling methods.

The scientists at NASA, however, appear to have approached the issue of heat from another angle – to design a chip that can operate at intensely hot temperatures. NASA claims that its new chip, which it terms as the “silicon carbide differential amplifier integrated circuit,” in tests exceeded 1,700 hours of continuous operation at 500 degrees Celsius. Typical computer chips malfunction after just hours of extreme temperatures.

"It's really a significant step toward mission-enabling harsh environment electronics," said Phil Neudeck, an electronics engineer and team lead for this work by the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

As the special processor can withstand high temperatures, the requirement for elaborate cooling measures may be unnecessary. Freeing the need for cooling could enable more streamlined and reliable designs.

"This new capability can eliminate the additional plumbing, wires, weight and other performance penalties required to liquid-cool traditional sensors and electronics near the hot combustion chamber, or the need to remotely locate them elsewhere where they aren't as effective," added Neudeck.

NASA believes that this breakthrough, that it claims represents a 100-fold tolerance increase in what has previously been achieved, could lead to improved safety and fuel efficiency as well as reduced emissions from jet engines. The chip would also apply to other space exploration applications, for example, robotic exploration on the hostile surface environment of Venus.

For on-Earth uses, the temperature-resilient chip could also be used in long-lasting high temperature environments, such as oil and natural gas well drilling. Further down the line, and cost permitting, the chip would have its uses inside automotive engines.



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RE: Can anyone say ...
By 16nm on 9/11/2007 5:13:29 PM , Rating: 4
Yes, absolutely.

This small feat in chip engineering seems remarkable to me.

How hot is hell because 500C must not be far off. Hey, maybe Intel could start producing a line of these and call them Intel InHell processors. Lol


RE: Can anyone say ...
By PrinceGaz on 9/12/2007 9:52:42 AM , Rating: 5
There is some information available on the temperature of hell.

quote:
The exact temperature of hell cannot be computed but it must be less than 444.6°C, the temperature at which brimstone or sulfur changes from a liquid to a gas. Revelations 21:8: But the fearful and unbelieving... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone [sulfur] means that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, which is 444.6°C. (Above that point, it would be a vapor, not a lake.)


There is the small point that if hell is at a higher pressure than the surface of the Earth, the boiling point of sulphur would be above 445°C. Unless the pressure is really extreme however, it is likely to be below 500°C and therefore the chip would be able to operate there.

It's worth noting that the chip may not operate for long in heaven...

quote:
The temperature of heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is the Bible, Isaiah 30:26 reads, Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold as the light of seven days. Thus, heaven receives from the moon as much radiation as the earth does from the sun, and in addition seven times seven (forty nine) times as much as the earth does from the sun, or fifty times in all. The light we receive from the moon is one ten-thousandth of the light we receive from the sun, so we can ignore that. With these data we can compute the temperature of heaven: The radiation falling on heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation. In other words, heaven loses fifty times as much heat as the earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann fourth power law for radiation (H/E)4 = 50 where E is the absolute temperature of the earth, 300°K (273+27). This gives H the absolute temperature of heaven, as 798° absolute (525°C).


The chip may be able to tolerate the 525°C of heaven for a limited period, but probably a lot less that it could operate in hell.


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