AMD Considers Equipping FX Chips with Liquid-Cooling Solution

AMD's Top-of-the-Range FX Processors May Get Bundles Liquid-Cooling Solution

by Anton Shilov
08/11/2011 | 07:24 AM

Advanced Micro Devices is mulling to equip boxed versions of its FX-series central processing units (CPUs) with a liquid-cooling solution (LCS) in order to enhance their overclockability as well as to improve their image in the eyes of high-performance computer enthusiasts. The idea seems to be rather innovative and AMD's arch-rival Intel Corp. is also considering it.

 

In a bid to offer quiet and high-performance cooling solution for its next-generation FX-series microprocessors, AMD intends to bundle a liquid cooling solution with the chips, according to a source with knowledge of the company's plans. AMD is considering to bundle the advanced cooler with its top-of-the-range eight-core chips, but it is unknown whether the chip designer will include the LCS with both eight-core FX chips or only with the most expensive model. The Sunnyvale, California-based company is currently considering to include a completely sealed liquid system that consists of a CPU water block with copper base, large heat-exchanger as well as cooling fan.

Both Advanced Micro Devices and Intel have been bundling rather powerful air cooling solutions with their chips for a number of years now. The majority of enthusiasts and high-end PC makers, however, utilized even more advanced coolers with massive heatsinks and numerous heat-pipes or even used liquid cooling solutions. Both AMD and Intel are now considering to bundle self-contained coolers with their enthusiast-class FX and Core i7 3000-series "Sandy Bridge E" (SNB-E) microprocessors in a bid to offer better user experience and allow to overclock their chips better right out of the box.

Self-contained liquid cooling solutions are more reliable than higher-end custom LCSs that involve numerous plastic pipes and have high risk of leak. By contrast, self-contained liquid coolers have seriously lower risk of leak, but they still perform much better than traditional air coolers with fans and heatsinks. There are more advantages that sealed liquid cooling systems have over traditional air coolers. Firstly, such coolers route all the CPU heat directly out of chassis, which means lower overall ambient temperature. Secondly, the low physical size of water-block drastically reduces the footprint of CPU cooling system, which greatly increases overall airflow inside chassis.

At present AMD is looking at something like Antec Kühler H2O 620 self-contained liquid cooling system. The solution consists of a CPU water block with copper base, large 151x120mm heat-exchanger as well as 120mm cooling fan with 1450 - 2000rpm speed. The product - which was developed in tandem with well-known LCS specialist Asetek - can be easily installed into almost any modern computer just like any other cooler and the only condition is presence of a place to install a 120mm fan. The Kühler H2O 620 is claimed to be 20% more efficient compared to stock coolers. Naturally, AMD may order a different LCS or customize the 620 model.

Inexpensive sealed liquid coolers cost from around $60 to around $70 in the U.S. retail, which means that it is completely possible to bundle it with chips that cost $300, $400 or more. Such microprocessors are usually bought by enthusiasts who usually overclock their chips and included LCS allows to do it easier and safer. Furthermore, bundling self-contained liquid cooler with a CPU will attract attention to this CPU and the brand. On the other hand, inclusion of such unusual cooling solution may indirectly indicate that AMD needs something extraordinary in order to attract attention and boost competitive advantages of its FX-series chips code-named Zambezi.

AMD itself believes that its multi-core Zambezi FX CPUs will allow it to compete head-to-head with Intel's high-end Core i-series "Sandy Bridge" processors that can sell for as much as $300 and more per chip.

Earlier this year it turned out that AMD had to delay commercial launch of its desktop FX-series microprocessors due to insufficient performance of B0 and B1 stepping Zambezi/Bulldozer processors, which could  function only at around 2.50GHz/3.50GHz (nominal/turbo) clock-speeds. As a consequence, AMD needed to tune the design of the processor and create B2 stepping of the chip with better clock-speed potential amid similar thermal design power (TDP), which is not a quick process.

It should be noted that the refreshed AMD FX "Zambezi" lineup will compete against Intel's Sandy Bridge E as well as Ivy Bridge microprocessors due in late Q4 2011 and March-April, 2012, respectively.

AMD and Antec did not comment on the news-story.