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Computer chips become smaller and smaller every year, but they also dissipate more and more heat because of rising clock-speeds and complexity. Moreover, each processor has its own “hot spots” that heat much more compared to its other areas. Within the next years, microprocessors used in PCs will be so small and so fast – and consequently so hot – that current methods of cooling will be inadequate. As we already learned, Intel proposed a new design for air-cooling solutions, but nobody knows whether it will be enough for processors coming out in 2006, 2007 years. There are different approaches of cooling, such as Peltier elements or water-cooling, but they are not enough cost-effective for mainstream market. There is a startup called Cooligy that proclaims a totally new method of cooling down future CPUs and GPUs.

The next generation of microprocessors not only produce higher overall temperatures but also create one or more concentrated hot spots of particularly high heat on the chip. These hot spots, typically found above areas where the most amount of work is performed on the chip, must be kept to within a specified temperature to ensure high-performance and reliability. Traditional means of cooling these chips, such as heat-sinks, fan-sinks and heat pipes, require a large mass of metal to passively absorb and spread the heat to air-cooled fins. These passive technologies cannot effectively cool the hot spots produced in next generation microprocessors, the company says.

Cooligy’s Active Micro-Channel Cooling technology utilizes highly-efficient means to absorb heat from the chip’s hot spots and quickly dissipate it to keep the chip cool. The Cooligy cooling system employs a heat collector fabricated from a thin layer of micro-machined silicon that fits on top of a microprocessor package. A very dense area of Micro-Channels etched into the silicon enables fluid to circulate through the heat collector and efficiently absorb and take away heat. Cooligy’s system has been shown to effectively cool microprocessor hotspots of up to 1000W per square centimetre.

The Cooligy approach also employs a new, innovative solid-state Electro-Kinetic pump. The Electro-Kinetic pump circulates the fluid in the cooling system through the Micro-Channel heat collector and to the heat radiator that transfers the heat to air. With no moving parts to wear out, this noiseless pump—the first of its kind—is small, cost-effective and highly reliable for long-term use.

Although some form of fluid cooling has existed for the most sophisticated computer systems during the past four decades, none have provided the precision, reliability or cost effectiveness needed to cool the hot spots of the next generation of microprocessors. Cooligy’s Active Micro-Channel Cooling and its innovative solid-state Electro-Kinetic pump is the first solution to solve the difficult cooling challenge presented by intense hot spots in future chips.

The company will begin supplying qualification systems to computer systems developers and manufacturers later this year. Let us live, let us see…

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