Water promises cool future for chips


Water promises cool future for chips

Cliff Saran

A novel approach to water cooling PC chips is being developed by researchers at IBM's Zurich laboratory.

The researchers are using a technique called "direct jet impingement" to squirt water onto the back of the chip and suck it off again in a closed system using an array of up to 50,000 tiny nozzles and a complicated branched return architecture.

According to IBM, current cooling technologies, mainly based on forced air convection (fans) blowing across heat sinks with densely spaced fins, have reached their limits. This could become a major problem as chips become more powerful.

The team has demonstrated cooling power densities of up to 370W per square centimetre with water as the coolant. This is more than six times beyond the current limits of air cooling techniques, which provide about 75W per square centimetre. In addition, the system uses much less energy for pumping than other cooling systems, IBM said.

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