Hot chips chilled with liquid metal

 作者:隗誓     |      日期:2019-03-03 04:07:02
By Will Knight Piping hot processors could be cooled more efficiently and quietly using liquid metal instead of using fans to blow away the heat, says a Texan company which has developed such a system. The central processing chips inside most desktop and server computers are cooled using heat-absorbing solid metal “sinks” and mechanical fans that generate continual air flow. But modern circuits can be so vastly complex that keeping them chilled is becoming increasingly noisy and power draining. Some manufacturers have started to look beyond conventional chilling technology. Apple’s latest G5 Power Mac computer, for example, uses water – in combination with a heat sink and a fan – to draw heat away from its dual microprocessors. And now, NanoCoolers, based in Texas, US, has developed a liquid metal cooling system that promises to be even quieter and more efficient. The system draws heat away from a circuit by pumping liquid gallium alloy through a series of pipes. The temperature of the liquid is brought back down to normal within an ambient air-cooled chamber. Unlike water, the metal boils at 2000°C, which means it can absorb more heat without changing phase and becoming a troublesome gas. Furthermore, it can be pumped away from a heat source more efficiently by means of electromagnetic pumps, instead of hydraulic ones. “Cooling is definitely a big issue,” says Kevin Krewell, editor-in-chief of Microprocessor Report, a computer hardware industry publication. “It looks like an interesting idea.” Krewell notes that recent microprocessors such as Intel’s latest – the Pentium Extreme Edition – consume unprecedented amounts of power and generate extraordinary amounts of heat. “If the liquid metal design can handle over 100 Watts of power, then it would be appealing for compact servers and PCs,” Krewell told New Scientist. “Cost is another factor, although the design seems simple enough.” And heat dissipation is not just an issue for the central processing unit within a PC. Other components, such as graphics cards, are rapidly becoming so complex that they too require some form of refrigeration. But there are also several futuristic cooling solutions to choose from. For example, researchers at Purdue University in Indiana, US, are developing a range of new technologies, from banks of “micro-fans” to nanotube electrodes that ionise air,