×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Quiet Cooling With a Copper Foam Heatsink

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the doubles-as-a-dish-scraper dept.

Hardware 171

Zothecula writes: The Silent Power PC is claimed to be the first high-end PC able to ditch noisy electric fans in favor of fully passive cooling. In place of a conventional fan, the unit uses an open-air metal foam heatsink that boasts an enormous surface area thanks to the open-weave copper filaments of which it's composed. The Silent Power creators claim that the circulation of air through the foam is so efficient in dissipating heat that the exterior surface temperature never rises above 50 C (122 F) in normal use.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Brillo-iant! (5, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | about 5 months ago | (#47567649)

And you can keep the pots and pans clean!

Re:Brillo-iant! (5, Funny)

plover (150551) | about 5 months ago | (#47567779)

Yeah, but does it do windows?

</ducks>

Re:Brillo-iant! (0)

Matheus (586080) | about 5 months ago | (#47568109)

That would be: <ducks /> sir...

BAM! Right in the kisser!

Re:Brillo-iant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568335)

Actually, placing just an end-tag has been a standard in forum chat, perhaps especially on Slashdot comments.
If you said <bad-pun> before the unexpected humor, that may adjust people's mindset before they even read the humorous section.
Your post seems to be assuming that he was adhering to HTML 4.01 standards, or perhaps an earlier version (like 3.02). However, not even all HTML versions used white space and then slashes at the end of a <BR> tag.

(One could argue that my post is also making an assumption, that plover is a "he". But that assumption of mine is simply reflecting Matheus's, which says "sir", which indicated male in the culture I grew up in. I realize some people have been pushing for "sir" to be used more ambiguously.)

I maintain that plover's usage was right; therefor your correction is not.

Re:Brillo-iant! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568421)

In your example of <bad-pun>, the content of the HTML tags is logically subordinate to the tag. In the case of the OP, the content, the action "duck" does not logically begin until after the statement is made, and therefore the content is not logically subordinate to the tag. So, the fully qualified version:

<ducks>
Yeah, but does it do windows?
</ducks>

Does not make sense. It would make sense if the element "Kidding" was used in place of "Ducks," but that is not the case here. So, since the action "duck" is a stand-alone element that sequentially follows the statement, the correct form would be:

Yeah, but does it do windows?
<ducks />

Re:Brillo-iant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569075)

The <ducks/> tag has been deprecated in favor of multiple instances of &#x1f617; (U+1F617 DUCK FACE)

Re:Brillo-iant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568711)

I have Windows ME running on a Raspberry Pi board, with qemu x86 softmmu.

It works. It's not fast. Or useful.

Re:Brillo-iant! (1)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 5 months ago | (#47569423)

Yeah, but does it do windows?

</ducks>

Nope. That's too much of a chore, boy.

Normal use indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47567677)

Better not catch you playing games on this thing or you're liable to start fires.

So this is a... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47567679)

So this is a slashvertizement for vaporware? neat! Also, I wouldn't call a 2.2 GHz processor a "high end" PC.

Re:So this is a... (1)

durrr (1316311) | about 5 months ago | (#47567747)

Wouldn't call it vaporware, you could cast molten copper into an ant colony and get something looking like that, or 3D print.
For the latter you can't put the "Thousand of lives were lost to bring you this fine piece of hardware" label onto it though.

Re:So this is a... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47569057)

Wouldn't call it vaporware, you could cast molten copper into an ant colony and get something looking like that, or 3D print.
For the latter you can't put the "Thousand of lives were lost to bring you this fine piece of hardware" label onto it though.

Suddenly I wish there was such a thing as a Bothan ant...

2.2 GHz (2)

hooiberg (1789158) | about 5 months ago | (#47567777)

The 10-core Xeon E7 4860 is 2.26 GHz, for example. The processor was available from February this year and costs 5k euro, or almost 7k USD.

Better have windows 9 when it comes out (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47567687)

Better have windows 9 when it comes out.

Perfect (5, Insightful)

sammyo (166904) | about 5 months ago | (#47567711)

... for a dust free room!

Re:Perfect (4, Interesting)

MDMurphy (208495) | about 5 months ago | (#47567877)

Dirt and dust is what I thought of also. While no moving air will help in that it won't draw as much air through it as a filter might, it will still collect lots of dust in hard to clean areas.

The only thought I had, which seems impractical, is to be able to remove the heatsink and place it in a ultrasonic cleaning bath like those used for jewelery. I could see it as an interesting curiosity, one I wouldn't mind cleaning once a year so so if it were on display. But I can't see it being a practical alternative for home use.

If it's very efficient maybe there's a benefit on putting them on rack-mounted servers that have cool, clean, air blown through them. Might decrease the density of servers you can put in a rack though, so there'd have to be a pretty good efficiency gain over active cooling to make that worthwhile.

Re:Perfect (3, Insightful)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about 5 months ago | (#47568147)

Cleaning it will only be a problem if the product is soft. If it can support being hit with 90PSI air without bending at all it will be easy to clean. Depending on the type of copper used it should sustain 90PSI very easily.

Re:Perfect (3, Informative)

v1 (525388) | about 5 months ago | (#47570191)

Cleaning it will only be a problem if the product is soft. If it can support being hit with 90PSI air without bending at all it will be easy to clean. Depending on the type of copper used it should sustain 90PSI very easily.

The hardness of the structure can be many times lower than the hardness of the material when you're talking turning it into FOAM. Compare the hardness of steel wool and steel.

If this is anything like I'm envisioning, you could probably take a 3" block of the stuff and step on it and crush it down to about 1/4-1/8". And unlike traditional material foam, this stuff isn't going to spring back.

Even if it can survive the blast of air, it may just serve to drive the particles deeper into the block. A filter has to be thin or very porous to insure air pressure can drive most of the trapped materials out.

I'm betting the best way to deal with dust/dirt in this case is to simply filter the air very well. Very fine dust should be removable with air, but you don't want anything at or above large dust particle size getting into that foam or you'll never get it out.

Re:Perfect (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | about 5 months ago | (#47568333)

could you put a static charge into the heat sink so it repels dust particles?

Re: Perfect (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568559)

No. But for sure you could put a static charge on it that would attract dust particles. It's Murphy's Law.

Re:Perfect (3, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 5 months ago | (#47569443)

No. A static charge will always attract neutral particles, due to the magic of induced dipoles. Positive, negative, alternating, it makes no difference.

Re:Perfect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568567)

There will be air moving: precisely the convective currents that make air-cooling feasible. There's an enormous surface area to conduct heat, so there's an enormous surface area for dust to settle. Fans get around this issue by having filters.

Re:Perfect (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568807)

Maybe they should add a fan to blow the dust out.

Re:Perfect (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 5 months ago | (#47569019)

You need to move air through it. Otherwise you know what you get? An insulator!

Tiny pockets of air are very good insulators - it's why you use stuff like spray foam, fiberglass, etc., in your house - the material itself doesn't matter. The fact that the material traps air in tiny pockets makes it very insulating. Aerogel is one of the best insulators around - and it consists of basically air and a tiny silica weave to trap it in little pockets.

This thing does have copper so it will transmit heat, but the air pockets in the middle, unless you force circulation will just keep the heat trapped there as you'll have lots of little pockets of air, turning it into a poorer conductor of heat than a solid block.

Without air flowing through the weave, it'll overheat. So your fan better not die.

Re:Perfect (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 5 months ago | (#47569199)

Looking at it the holes are big enough that I think that the heat entering the system will create the flow of air necessary to move the heat out. Hot air will rise out of the heat sink pulling cooler air in from the sides. Might work with no fan.

Re:Perfect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568305)

... for a dust free room!

I was thinking the same. And people will actually buy something this dumb. They ripped off the makers of scrubbing pads, not very thoughtful or original. I guess the real joke is /. didn't have really any sarcastic comments at the end of the submission.

Re:Perfect (4, Informative)

jiriw (444695) | about 5 months ago | (#47568557)

Implicit question answered here [silentpowerpc.de] . For the tl;dr & tl;dt folk: Use a vacuum cleaner.

Vor Staub braucht man keine Angst haben, denn durch den inneren Wärmepuffer kann Staub nicht bis ins innerste vordringen. Staub im äußeren Bereich lässt sich dank der Offenporigkeit leicht mit einem Staubsauger absaugen. Weil der SilentPower keinen Lüfter hat, wird Staub auch nicht wie bei normalen Computern angesaugt. Du wirst sehen, dass man ihn seltener entstauben muss als einen normalen Desktop-PC. Dennoch gilt das selbe wie bei allen PCs: Regelmäßiges Entstauben schont die Hardware.

Re:Perfect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569269)

fair enough for server rooms

50 C in normal use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47567731)

And how much under heavy use (like HD video / game / etc.) ?

Dust (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47567735)

Dust.

Re:Dust (2)

Hadlock (143607) | about 5 months ago | (#47567901)

DUST
 
So you've come up with the ultimate heat sink, but now you have to run it in a positive pressure ventilation clean room.
 
Might as well just stick the PC in the closet and run an HDMI over Ethernet to your desk and use wireless mouse/keyboard. Now that we're not forced to use a maximum of 9' VGA cable, and nobody uses physical media anymore, there's zero reason not to stick the PC somewhere else and run an extra CAT-6 drop for the video (HDMI over Ethernet needs 2x1gbps)

Caps cause use of physical media (2)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#47568395)

nobody uses physical media anymore

"Nobody" is a strong word. People who pay $10 per GB for home Internet (sat, cell, or Iowa DSL [slashdot.org] ) still use physical media.

there's zero reason not to stick the PC somewhere else and run an extra CAT-6 drop

Unless you're renting and the landlord won't let you modify the walls.

Re:Caps cause use of physical media (0)

Hadlock (143607) | about 5 months ago | (#47569707)

Given your pedantic argument, I stand by my statement.

Re:Dust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568919)

I wouldn't say ultimate heat-sink. I suspect the ultimate one would be tree-shaped, or some type of fractal.

Re:Dust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568571)

in the wind.

just wondering,.. (2)

Selur (2745445) | about 5 months ago | (#47567737)

How stable is that foam and how good will it conduct heat once it gets squished by my cat/children/me accidentally putting a bottle/glas on it?
-> without some kind of protection cage this seems kind of a bad idea,..

Re:just wondering,.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569153)

It's warm and it's foamy, your cat will love it!

500? (4, Interesting)

hooiberg (1789158) | about 5 months ago | (#47567741)

This factor of 500 is a strange number. The copper fins of my CPU-heatsink also have a quite a large total area. A claim of two orders of magnitude needs a bit more justification than just a mention. Otherwise is just seems like a movie title.

Re:500? (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#47567883)

It's has a tremendous surface area. For more then you fins.
For comparison, then on the surface area of a brick cs the surface area of a sponge.

Re:500? (1)

tvsjr (242190) | about 5 months ago | (#47568905)

One more time, in something approximating proper English?

Re:500? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569007)

foam. it has holes in it. holes increases surface;

surface
sfs/
noun
1.
the outside part or uppermost layer of something.

Re:500? (2)

alva_edison (630431) | about 5 months ago | (#47570029)

They are using the entire case as a heat sink, both the GPU and CPU are mounted directly to the top of the case. The foam is a gimmick, it would probably work just as well with fins.
This will likely make upgrades difficult/impossible.

Kickstarter warning (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47567745)

This is not a real product. It's just being crowdfunded. The only evidence that it works is a claim by the creators that "the exterior surface temperature never rises above 50 C (122 F) in normal use", without specifying what "normal use" is.

It might work and if so, great! I can't trust this article at this moment, however.

Re:Kickstarter warning (1)

Reason58 (775044) | about 5 months ago | (#47568199)

"Normal use" is likely a low wattage processor sitting at 99% idle.

Re:Kickstarter warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568361)

Don't worry. If it does get crowdfunded, then timothy can post another update. And then there can be another post when it is released. And then an advertisement can be posted to the main page under the guise of an "Ask Slashdot"...

Re:Kickstarter warning (1)

Lazere (2809091) | about 5 months ago | (#47569383)

Wait... I must not have read well enough. Surface temperature? As in, the temperature of the heat sink itself? No mention of CPU temperature? That thing must be boiling under "normal use".

Re:Kickstarter warning (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47569939)

And you still need a fan even if it works, just not as large. Something needs to create an air flow within the chassis.

Donations WTF? (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 5 months ago | (#47567749)

Funding is sought via donations

Because they don't seek to make a profit? because a charitable thing to do is create computer heat-sinks for the poor abused computers???

Seriously what the fuck are they doing asking for 'donations'.

Per-orders, fair enough, but donations should go to good causes, not £%^£"$£%^ing fancy PC heat-sinks.

Re:Donations WTF? (1)

pla (258480) | about 5 months ago | (#47569441)

Per-orders, fair enough, but donations should go to good causes, not ã%^ã"$ã%^ing fancy PC heat-sinks.

You realize, of course, that Kickstarter exists to do nothing more than manage donations, a great many of which go to some variety of bleeping fancy PC toys?

Clean Room needed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47567757)

And, since it's not even in a case with minimal filters expect it to just look like a block version of your cat within 3 months. I would enjoy seeing what conditions they tested this in and the kinds of dust they anticipate it collecting. Because while it doesn't have a fan to help "suck" the dust in it also doesn't have any to blow it away.

As Flammable as Steel Wool? (2)

macromorgan (2020426) | about 5 months ago | (#47567759)

Will this "copper wool" be as flammable as steel wool? If so, that could spell trouble.

Re:As Flammable as Steel Wool? (4, Funny)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#47568151)

I'm sure the engineers have taken care of that problem. As a matter of fact, I'm just testing the product and...oh shit, my shirt is on fire...

Re:As Flammable as Steel Wool? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568667)

Copper wool is not flammable like steel wool. Even so, the heatsink here isn't as fine as wool, it's more of a mesh.

Re:As Flammable as Steel Wool? (2)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 5 months ago | (#47569655)

Simply by looking at the reactivity series, you can tell that copper is considerably less flammable than iron. OTOH, powdered copper burns with a nice green colour when tossed into a Bunsen flame.

For a practical standpoint, you could ask if steel wool burns in the temperatures of a CPU heatsink. Probably not, and this copper sponge is much less of a risk. Of course, if you like living on the edge, and tweaking CFLAGS [funroll-loops.info] is not enough, try an entire case [gizmodo.com] made of a notoriously reactive metal.

Re:As Flammable as Steel Wool? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47569475)

I was expecting to be be far bulkier than steel wool, but that is basically just copper wool.

Re:As Flammable as Steel Wool? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47569553)

It looks like the burning of steel wool is basically just a corrosion based chemical reaction that is seriously sped up and self sustained by the heat. So, no, most likely copper is immune.

Re:As Flammable as Steel Wool? (1)

Horshu (2754893) | about 5 months ago | (#47569831)

Shouldn't be, which is one of the reasons that crackheads like to use Chore Boy for filters.

Old news. (4, Informative)

ledow (319597) | about 5 months ago | (#47567783)

Bought a no-moving-parts power supply back in... oh, I don't know, 2003 or something. Sold as "cooled by heatpipes", pretty much the same principle - silent, no moving parts, passively cooled, no fans, huge surface areas.

They also did kits for the processor itself but I've also bought P2-era motherboards that were designed to be passively cooled too (same thing, huge heatsink, no fan).

So this is certainly not "the first" in the PC world (unless we're talking about "the first" to use some particular technology that just about replicates what I bought over 10 years ago). Not even close. In fact, it's over a decade out. And going outside the PC world, passively cooled chips are pretty common - you have a tablet or smartphone without a huge stonking fan, no?

The PSU is still working 10 years on if you'd like me to dig it out. I'm sure it wouldn't take much to butcher it to do the same job to the processor, especially if you can safely have it clock itself down to prevent heat being generated in the first place.

Re:Old news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568001)

Yes, heatsinks have existed for years. The copper foam is newish.

Re:Old news. (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 5 months ago | (#47568193)

And so the article, and the quote in the summary, are just plain lying:

"The Silent Power PC is claimed to be the first high-end PC able to ditch noisy electric fans in favor of fully passive cooling."

Re:Old news. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568659)

If they manage to stay below 50C with that hardware (i7, 760 GTX) it's indeed impressive.

I've put together systems with no moving parts but it's usually dual core and internal graphics.

Re:Old news. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47569459)

If they manage to stay below 50C with that hardware (i7, 760 GTX) under a load it's indeed impressive.

FTFY.

I just put together a box with a $50 mobo and AMD FX-6150 with stock heatsink/fan combo, and it runs at less than 45C all day long.

Re:Old news. (1)

GonzoPhysicist (1231558) | about 5 months ago | (#47568275)

Heat pipes are a little different as they rely on a phase change of some internal liquid.

Re:Old news. (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#47569307)

Bought a no-moving-parts power supply back in... oh, I don't know, 2003 or something. Sold as "cooled by heatpipes", pretty much the same principle - silent, no moving parts, passively cooled, no fans, huge surface areas.

They also did kits for the processor itself but I've also bought P2-era motherboards that were designed to be passively cooled too (same thing, huge heatsink, no fan).

So this is certainly not "the first" in the PC world (unless we're talking about "the first" to use some particular technology that just about replicates what I bought over 10 years ago). Not even close. In fact, it's over a decade out. And going outside the PC world, passively cooled chips are pretty common - you have a tablet or smartphone without a huge stonking fan, no?

The PSU is still working 10 years on if you'd like me to dig it out. I'm sure it wouldn't take much to butcher it to do the same job to the processor, especially if you can safely have it clock itself down to prevent heat being generated in the first place.

I can do you one better: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

It was a fanless high-end PC back in 1986.

But it didn't use foam; just rudimentary heat sinks and a well-planned ducting system. Oh yes, and the heat it generated melted the solder used to connect the monitor to the motherboard in the first few batches that came off the line, until they started using higher tolerance solder.

there already are heatsinks (1)

gTsiros (205624) | about 5 months ago | (#47567807)

that under """normal""" use don't reach 50c without a fan

also, they are not the first to think about this. back in the athlon xp days i thought of a "hairbrush" like heatsink with many tiny copper strands
however, heat transfer from sink base to each "fiber" is relatively weak

Interesting Thought (1)

TMYates (1946034) | about 5 months ago | (#47567831)

If I understand it correctly, it works similar to materials NASA uses on the space shuttle. By increasing the surface area of the heat sink, you get a better cooling effect. I believe NASA uses a foam made of 95% air or so for the tiles that are on the outside of the space shuttle. These in turn seem to allow heat in but can remain cool to the touch at very high temperatures internally. Somewhere I saw a video of someone holding a block made of this NASA material. In this case, having a "foam" made out of copper allows it to cool very quickly. I bet it would still work better to have some sort of fan blowing and constantly moving air across the foam.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert in the physics or technology behind this, but it seems logical to me.

Pretty sure it wasn't the heat tiles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47567891)

I forget if it was a materials science guy in grade/middle school, or at space camp, but we got a demo of one of those tiles and you could whack that thing on a table, drop it on the floor, etc without it shattering.

Whatever material they used for those things was incredibly dense and also incredibly resilient. It made the Columbia disaster all the more impressive for being able to smash those tiles off (I assume due to the adhesive rather than the tiles themselves.)

Re:Pretty sure it wasn't the heat tiles. (3, Informative)

Strider- (39683) | about 5 months ago | (#47568093)

The tiles on the shuttle's belly were the complete opposite. The main tiles on the belly of the shuttle were roughly 10% silica fibers, 90% air. Think very low density styrofoam, except that it can be heated to glowing temperatures without losing its properties. This was actually the really cool demo that I saw. The person giving the demo heated it with a torch until it was glowing yellow/white, then picked it up with his bare finger tips. Because the thermal conductivity of it was so low, it could be handled (with care) with bare hands.

For the OP, the point of the thermal protection system was precisely the opposite of being a heat sink. It's entire purpose was to insulate the shuttle against the heat that the belly was exposed to during re-entry. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of heating during re-entry was due to compressive heat (think diesel engines, boyles law and all that), Not friction. Basically the shuttle would compress the air in front of it, causing it to heat up to plasma type temperatures, which was then transferred to the body of the shuttle through convective heating. As such, the best way to deal with it was just to insulate yourself, and wait for the high temperatures to pass.

Re:Interesting Thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47567981)

"I believe NASA uses a foam made of 95% air or so..."
You are talking about aerogel, i think.

Same tech, but as a normal heatsink (2)

nullchar (446050) | about 5 months ago | (#47567835)

I would rather have a normal heatsink (in popular form factors) for CPU and GPU out of this material. You would still want airflow through your case, or even on top of the heatsink, but RPMs of those fans would hopefully be much lower, making much less noise.

Silent is a noble goal, but I would be happy to use standard cases and components being very quiet.

Applicable to laptops? (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about 5 months ago | (#47567839)

Could this be used for laptops, and maybe tablets and phones?

I would think so. Laptops already have vents. A smaller, slower, quieter fan may be necessary.

Surface area, it is why I prefer crushed ice on a hot day.

I am skeptical (3, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about 5 months ago | (#47567887)

Assuming the copper filaments are cylindrical in shape, that's a surface area to volume ratio of (2pi*r*l) / (pi*r^2*l) = 2/r.

OTOH, in a copper fin configuration, the ratio of surface area to volume is (2lw) / (lwt) = 2/t.

In other words, if you use the same volume of copper and the thickness of the fin is half the diameter of the sponge cylinders, you have the exact same surface area. The thinner fins may be weaker, but since the additional fin material on the sides reinforces the structural strength, I assume that's not too big a deal. Just place thicker (stronger) fins along the outsides and you have a structure which is much more solid than the sponge.

Now consider that in passive cooling the airflow is slow enough to be laminar. The flat surface of the fins (oriented vertically) will then impose less aerodynamic resistance, leading to higher flowrate, and thus greater heat exchange.

Unless there's something else going on here (maybe the sponge filaments are wrinkled instead of smooth), or it's that much harder to make thin fins than spongy cylinders, I don't see how this could be better than a traditional fin-type heatsink.

Re:I am skeptical (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569529)

It is incredibly hard to make extremely thin pieces of copper perfectly aligned on the cheap, compared to haphazardly making a sponge from the same material. You also have the problem of efficiency. You may have nice flat walls but your shape is some form of rectangle. The optimum shape is a hexagonal patter, and the foam mesh is closer in that regard.

Re:I am skeptical (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 5 months ago | (#47569751)

In other words, if you use the same volume of copper and the thickness of the fin is half the diameter of the sponge cylinders, you have the exact same surface area. The thinner fins may be weaker, but since the additional fin material on the sides reinforces the structural strength, I assume that's not too big a deal.

I agree with the rest of your argument, especially including the fluid flow part. However, I'm not sure if this part works out, it really depends on other assumptions. For a point load I agree -- the load is spread across the width, at least to some extent. But with a wider surface, you generally experience more load, proportional to the size, and there's no benefit in connecting the fin segment to neighbouring segments. So the cylinder would be stronger in this sense. It's the intuitive idea of increasing the width in the direction of the load, and the other direction won't help.

Efficient? (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#47567921)

"the foam is so efficient in dissipating heat that the exterior surface temperature never rises above 50 C (122 F) in normal use."

Hey, I can glue a chunk of styrofoam on a CPU, and the outside of it won't even get that hot. I wouldn't use that fact to claim that styrofoam makes a great heatsink, though. Quite the opposite.

Re:Efficient? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#47568133)

I was about to say basically the same thing - the interesting number on a heat sink is how cool it keeps the heat *source*, not the coldest outer edges of the heat sink.

Re:Efficient? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569155)

Yeah, thanks for the input. Stop riding my coattails and acting all insightful now.

Re:Efficient? (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 5 months ago | (#47568681)

According to some tests I did a while ago with conventional passive heatsinks, if the exterior surface of the heatsink is reaching 50C that means that the processor below is getting much hotter than 50C. Big trouble.

Re:Efficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47569183)

Big trouble? I've been jacking a i7 up to 90C for a couple of years now with no issues.

What are you running? (2)

Grog6 (85859) | about 5 months ago | (#47569657)

I've been ocing processors for years now; I've never felt comfortable letting even the die temp get that hot.

I've ran a i7-920 at ~5.5G for a few seconds, it only hit 80C before it turned off. It still runs; most 920s are good for 4.3-4.6 on a good heatpipe heatsink.

I'm running a 3930k now at 4.6G; it only has issues ripping DVD's, for some reason. It won't do that over ~4.2G.

I'm using a few year old 6x 6mm heatpipes in a copper base; it even has a "Black nickel" finish, so the copper fins won't corrode.

I never run above 60C with stable clocks, usually...

Seriously, what processor will run that hot?

Zalman heat-sink case (4, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 5 months ago | (#47567971)

A computer case that doubles as the heat-sink FTW!

http://www.quietpc.com/tnn500a... [quietpc.com]

Re:Zalman heat-sink case (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 5 months ago | (#47568207)

A computer case that doubles as the heat-sink FTW!

At 70 lbs, it could also double as a boat anchor.
Increasing surface area of your heat sink is a much more efficient way to dump heat than increasing the thermal mass of your heat sink.

Re:Zalman heat-sink case (1)

Gryle (933382) | about 5 months ago | (#47568847)

The added weight is an anti-theft measure. This way the thief leaves your desktop alone in favor of your more expensive and more easily portable television!

Re:Zalman heat-sink case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568235)

three VGA heatpipes drain heat from the GPU at a rate of 75 watts/sec

What exactly does that mean? The proper unit is degrees C per watt.

Re:Zalman heat-sink case (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 5 months ago | (#47568767)

Oh my... And I thinking that diving the computer in oil was bizarre.

Re:Zalman heat-sink case (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 5 months ago | (#47568863)

It still is. The physics of oil cooling is good, but it's not practical in terms of the effort it takes to both administer and replace/upgrade hardware. If left in an enclosed system like power transformer, sure. But then again, those are mainly "set it and forget it" devices rarely touched once in place.

Re:Zalman heat-sink case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568909)

Hope that thing is well grounded.

Re:Zalman heat-sink case (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#47569483)

I love how the page sells it as "Developed using heatpipe technology to create a 100% passively cooled environment," right above a picture of the back of the case, which features,

wait for it...

A fan mount!

Gives me a chuckle.

Not a high-end machine (4, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about 5 months ago | (#47568037)

It's using a Core i7-4785T, an "ultra-low power" processor (shown by the T suffix - S indicates a "low-power" part, and K indicating an overclockable part). This particular one is a 35W part running at only 2.2GHz, while the regular i7-4790 runs at 3.6GHz (and 84W)[citation] [wikipedia.org] . Turbo boost can bring that up to 3.2GHz on a single core (on the regular chip, 4.0GHz). So the CPU is not a regular desktop chip at all, let alone a "high-end" one.

The Nvidia GeForce 760 is a bit of an interesting choice. It's not powerful enough to be called "high-end" (I would apply that label only to the 780 and 780 Ti of that series), but it doesn't fit with the ultra-low power CPU. If they were thermally constrained (as their CPU choice indicates), I would have expected to see the 750 Ti - not too much weaker (~30% [citation] [anandtech.com] ), but with a far lower power draw (it's the most powerful card to be powered only by PCIe, no extra power connections needed). Seriously, the 760 is a 170W card, and the 750 Ti is a 60W card. Seeing how they handicapped the CPU to shave off 50W, I don't see their logic for not shaving 110W for a similar performance penalty.

Because of their choice of CPU, I can't really support their claim of being a high-end desktop with passive cooling. They are much more powerful than most fanless PCs, but most fanless PCs are also designed for industrial use, not for regular office/home environment. So it's an improvement, but not a revolutionary one.

Ugly ass computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568043)

What a butt ugly computer.

Who would want a computer with a carrot top afro?!?

Looks like it would get damaged or cloged up in a normal enviroment.

This might be good for use in a data center, it eliminate the need for internal fans and save a little bit of energy.

So Cool (2)

tquasar (1405457) | about 5 months ago | (#47568345)

It's a Brillo Pad?

Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#47568467)

With finned heat sinks, one of the limits on size was that the comparatively low conductivity of the fin material made surface area increasingly unhelpful as you got further from the heat source. Especially with paper-thin lightweight aluminum you could just keep making them bigger; but much of the fin would be essentially wasted because the delta-T between the more distant areas of fin and the source of the heat would be so high. Plenty of heat exchange surface; but not much heat making it out that far.

This is why more or less all contemporary heatsinks started embedding heatpipes some time ago, since that was the only way to get a reasonable amount of heat to the more distant parts of the heatsink.

This 'sponge' is more aesthetically interesting; but I see a lot of surface area that is only tenuously connected to the actual heat source. Newer Intel silicon just doesn't pump out the watts the way the old stuff did, so it might actually work; but I'd be shocked it if works any better than a much more prosaic heatpipe-and-fins design.

How bad is your noise, really? (1)

Megane (129182) | about 5 months ago | (#47568583)

I had recently upgraded the CPU in my living-room MythTV PC to an i7, using the standard Intel fan cooler from the retail box CPU. (It originally had the lowest i3 Celeron I could get, because I wasn't sure I would finish it.) The PC itself was in an Antec quiet case which generated little noise.

Upon waking from a nap on the couch, I heard the sound of a fan and thought that it was coming from the PC. Once I had fully awakened, I realized that the noise was actually coming from the main air intake to the central air-conditioning.

Aerogel (3, Insightful)

rudojob (1754140) | about 5 months ago | (#47568695)

Somewhat surprising. This reminded me of a metal aerogel and aerogels are good insulators http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]

Very impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47568729)

Aside from dust accumulation, the major problem with modern CPUs is the sheer thermal power density per unit area. The biggest problem now is not getting the heat from the heatsink into the air, but from the CPU into the heatsink base and then via the dissipation area into the air. It's a point of dimishing returns with air coolers, eg adding more and more heat-pipes (some HS now have 6 heat pipes in direct contact with the CPU heat spreader), mirror finishes on the HS base etc.

That is why there has been a big market lately in watercooling, not only with all-in-ones for home/minor enthusiast use but even for datacenter. If you can get the bit of metal that touches the CPU as close to your coolant as possible (and as cold as possible) you can really bring your thermals down.

I'd like to see someone try to overclock this or run it with a really high-end CPU. I would be prepared to bet that the heat cannot be tranfsferred faster from the CPU contact surface into the foam any better than a heatpipe-based setup with fins.

In fact I've happily run a 4930k at default clock with the case open and *no fans attached* with a Thermalright Ultra Extreme (which is now a bit old-hat). Granted I wasn't loading to 100% CPU but it worked just fine for my daily work until I could get a new fan!

And the dust? Do I now need to put the whole machine in the dishwasher instead of just the cooler???

Reynolds number (5, Interesting)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 5 months ago | (#47568877)

basically means that for slower airflow, you need larger gaps for air to flow through. This is why the sponge is bad for heat dissipation, and great for insulation. It's kind of intuitive, but it's nice to have some science backing to it. Having a large surface is good, but it doesn't help if the airflow across the surface is limited.

On a side note, I've been on a quest for quiet cooling since the very early 2000s, incidentally after getting a physics degree. It's mostly in the last couple of years that I've started to see really sensible coolers in the general market. For example, the usual CPU cooler in the olden days had a fan pushing right against the CPU with minimal fins in between, meaning there's a considerable high-pressure centre with no airflow. No one with a fluid mechanics 101 would design crap like that. OTOH, the traditional CPU/mobo setting is a little problematic; first you put the most heat-concentrating element in the middle of everything, and then later you realize it needs cooling. (I'd put the CPU socket on the reverse side and use the case as a huge heatsink...) Now finally the designers have the sense of using a straight sideways airflow, combined with heat pipes. Why the fsck did this take so long?

I used to strive for pure passive cooling, but in the end I don't mind a large, slow fan -- it's enormously better than no fan, and still indistinguishable from other background noises. This is another nice thing to see in cooler designs, from the 1-inch whiner in my first Linux laptop to the 140-mm quiet giants that can easily manage a couple of hundred watts of GPU.

BTW, if you ever need to explain somebody how a heat pipe works, take them to a sauna.

How is this better than the Mac Pro? (1)

david.emery (127135) | about 5 months ago | (#47569013)

Would anyone here doubt that a Mac Pro is a 'high end machine,' or that the posted specs for system noise don't make that "quiet?

One difference is obvious, you can go see, listen to, and buy a Mac Pro right now.

Re:How is this better than the Mac Pro? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 5 months ago | (#47569509)

The mac pro* is quiet, but it isn't actually silent. It's close, but there's still a fan in there. You just can't see it clearly - it's on the bottom.

*I assume you mean the flower vase model.

Looks familiar (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 months ago | (#47569175)

Their copper "foam" reminds me strongly of the brass "sponge" that I use to clean the tips of my soldering irons. I wonder if there's a DIY cooling project I've been missing?

Noise? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47569583)

Does anyone actually care about fan noise? The only reason to ever think about forgoing fans, imho, is dust. If you can seal a case from the outside world, great. You would have a lot less trouble down the line.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?