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Micro-Pump is Cool Idea for Future Computer Chips

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the bad-pun-already-in-the-headline dept.

96

core plexus writes to tell us that Engineers at Purdue University have designed a tiny 'micro-pump' cooling device that can be used to circulate coolant through the channels etched on an individual chip. From the article: "The prototype chip contains numerous water-filled micro-channels, grooves about 100 microns wide, or about the width of a human hair. The channels are covered with a series of hundreds of electrodes, electronic devices that receive varying voltage pulses in such a way that a traveling electric field is created in each channel. The traveling field creates ions, or electrically charged atoms and molecules, which are dragged along by the moving field."

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Holy wow (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15208697)

intersting

Not exactly one for the modders (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15208698)

The smallest particle in the coolant would block it.

Re:Not exactly one for the modders (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208763)

The coolant is supposed to be built in, doh.

The way I see this working is having the micropump embedded INSIDE the chip so the surface can be attached to a heatsink and dissipate heat more efficiently.

Re:Not exactly one for the modders (1)

Seraphim1982 (813899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209006)

Maybe it's just me, but 100 microns seems like a fairly large particle.

Re:Not exactly one for the modders (1)

coolcold (805170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210609)

you still do get blockage with 100microns micro channel. You have to use fairly distilled water (unless they are using different coolant) so there are not much ions floating around, and not too distilled so the water is not corrosive which may eat away the channel.

Re:Not exactly one for the modders (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210899)

Why do we have to pump water through the microchip ?

  Yeah sure, it gives us probably almost the most efficient way to cool things down since water has excellent figures on leading and consuming heat. But it's rather complicated aswell, one problem is stuff can get stuck in the microchannels, the other one is that it has to be really tight and it get's very fragile.

  Why won't amd and intel and all the other `hottie makers` just include heatpipes into the design of the cpu ? it would help a lot aswell :)

  I will draw an (really advanced :p) figure how'd i do it here :

C - cpu core components
x - heatpipe inside cpu
H - heatpipes coming out

H H H H
xxxxxxxxxxxxx
xCCCCCXCCCCCx
xxCCCxxxCCCxx
xCCCCCxCCCCCx

  Now we just have to attach the cooler to the heatpipe's base, if it has it's own compatible heatpipes, it can continue them (infact they could even share the same liquid/gas to transport the heat, it just has to be done very cleanly)

  Computers are small, creating direct contact would be rather simple (not simple as do-it-yourself wifi antenna but still, compared to microchannels and water filtering ...)

  It would have far better heat transmission than the current cpu's that depend on some metal plate being pushed against them and with some luck having some kind of thermal paste between. When you think about the current design, it looks like a gearbox of a mini sitting behind Schumacher.

Re:Not exactly one for the modders (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210915)

yay, input boxes use fixed width font, slashdot doesn't ... anyway i' guess you'll understand what i meant (and maybe how wrong i could be on the idea...)

smaller version here then
H_H_H
xxxxx
xcxcx
xcccx
gotta learn to use preview ...

Re:Not exactly one for the modders (3, Insightful)

Chr0nik (928538) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209382)

True, in fact it's a kind of catch-22. Dirty water is more conductive than clean water. Using an EHD drive to pump the water is ingenious, but if the water's too clean it won't efficiently pump through the channels, if it's even slightly dirty, there will be mineral build up which will block the channels and fry your chip. Perhaps some other electrolytic fluid will work better, but I can't think of any with better thermal conductivity that won't boil at room temperatures. Good idea though. Using a refrigerant and the temperature gradient in the case would probably be a better idea. The problem with that however, is you'd be forced to have your case at a specific orientation in relation to the cooling device. There would have to be different versions for stand up cases, and rack mount or desktop cases.

Re:Not exactly one for the modders (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209438)

well don't use water then.

Thats what you think ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15210809)

Two words.....

sea monkies !!!!!!

Re:Not exactly one for the modders (1)

elliotCarte (703667) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212262)

Perhaps they could use ferrofluid [wikipedia.org] instead of water. The same electromagnetic field would cause far more flow and with a lot more force. Particulates in ferrofluid are on a nano scale and are kept from agglomerating by use of a surfactant, which should help prevent clogging in the channels. The additional force of the fluid would not only increase flow (and thus cooling) dramatically, it should also help keep the channels clear as the force pulling the fluid through the channels would probably be sufficient to sweep any larger particles through what would otherwise become a clog. I'm sure there's a reason they didn't use ferrofluid. Surely they thought of that as they chose the appropriate liquid to use... right?

Cooling channels allow chip fabrication in 3D! (5, Interesting)

jlseagull (106472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208705)

Chips fabbed in 3D have numerous advantages - short trace lengths, higher density, etc. However, the problem with all of them is getting the heat out with today's convective cooling technologies. This technology will allow multiple cores in 3D to operate without overheating, and that's a good thing as the number of cores in personal computers and servers continues to increase.

Re:Cooling channels allow chip fabrication in 3D! (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208746)

Eh? But wouldn't it be more difficult to deal with the silicon in three dimensions? I'm not an engineer, but I imagine that the wafers are much easiers to use, (especially with my understanding of how they create transistors using semi-conductors).

Re:Cooling channels allow chip fabrication in 3D! (1)

jlseagull (106472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208911)

Yes, it's more difficult, but you (potentially) get large gains in speed due to shorter wire lengths. I'm not up on all of the technology, but some of it centers around fabbing layers separately and then bonding them together (similar to PCBs), and others are all-at-once methods.

This cooling method is also valuable for MEMS systems.

Re:Cooling channels allow chip fabrication in 3D! (3, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208931)

The trouble is that routing on chips isn't done by hand anymore. An algorithm crunches away on a design and spits out what it found to be the most optimal layout for the given parameters. So if you have to start pushing things around by hand in order to make room for cooling channels, it could break your design.

I'd say the solution to it would be to lay out the cooling channels just like other routes in the die, and set the parameters up somehow in the routes would be relatively well distributed for maximum heat absorption.

Cooling is not the only problem (5, Informative)

thpr (786837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208926)

Yes, 3D is a neat application, but cooling is not the only challenge in 3D semiconductor electronics. Another perspective on 3D is available in Business Week's More life for Moore's Law [businessweek.com] article.

For example, one of the assumptions that exists on a semiconductor wafer before it is printed is that it is effectively flat (a typical peak to valley range on a modern wafer within the expected field of a chip is on the order of 175 to 200 nm)

Polishing to that accuracy once structures have been placed on a semiconductor wafer is difficult. Getting a consistent layer of material when you are polishing an uneven surface (uneven due to vias [connections] to the other layers of silicon present) is downright challenging. Another problem with printing transistors on anything but a pure wafer is the issue of reflection. Thin layers of materials on a semiconductor are semi-transparent and not perfectly vertical. Those angled and curved structures produce reflections. Those reflections can cause problems in printing later layers (because of constructive and destructive interference of the light used to expose the photoresist). Those reflections mean that modeling the exposore process of a 3D semiconductor is a VERY challenging task.

Such items are not of concern today, because the later structures placed on the wafer are generally metal lines or capacitors for DRAMs or lenses for image sensors, etc. These are all large and some level of imprecision is acceptable. While variation can cause differnet RC characteristics in metal lines, the timing models in the library or other models can account for this variation. In fact, Matrix Semiconductor has been producing 3D DRAM since about 2004, which shows that heat isn't necessarily the problem, and DRAMs (and memory in general) are a reasonable application for 3D technologies (likely because the capacitors are generally large in relative terms).

Transistors, however, are much more sensitive to variation, and the variation in later polishing used today is too rough for the effective printing of transistors. While I don't doubt that there are situations where the density will be valuable, I think 3D processors and custom chips (in consumer electronics, et al.) are as much an economic issue as a cooling/technical one. (in other words, with my understanding of current roadmaps, you will decrease semiconductor yield to such a degree that 3D may not be economically viable, even if the cooling problem is solved.)

Re:Cooling is not the only problem (3, Funny)

jlseagull (106472) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209033)

(mouth moving out of sync with the words, as in a chop-socky flick)

"Your CMOS-fu is greater than mine! Please say more, so that I might sit and listen!"

Can you point to some more links on 3D fabrication? Thanks!

Clarification and more information on 3D (2, Informative)

thpr (786837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209523)

So I did realize after I posted the grandparent comment that there are actually two different technologies at work here. I just recognize '3D' as 3D fabrication: using a single wafer and printing multiple layers of transistors. That is what I was referring to in the grandparent post. However, there is also 3D packaging technology, which has specific names in the industry and therefore I missed an alternate reading of both your original post and the article. The technology from the original article may be more easily integrated into a 3D package (more below).

Specifically related to the issues I mentioned: If you are interested in some of the challenges around flatness, you can learn more about dummy fill that must be added to metal layers, by looking at the layman's version [sematech.org] or a technical description [mit.edu] .

With regard to reflection, you can check out a rather old background article [ibm.com] or how anti-reflection layers must be used [future-fab.com] in modern semiconductor manufacturing to reduce problems.

More specific articles on 3D fabrication can probably be found in recent journals (most likely not available online), or if you're not concerned about reading patents, by reading patents from the USPTO (for reasons of US law which you're probably familiar with, I'm not going to search that and provide you any links). There may also be more by searching for Matrix Semiconductor (which I didn't realize at the time of my first posting has been acquired by SanDisk).

Having said that, there is also 3D packaging, which takes various forms. Semiconductor Cubing [nasa.gov] (as it's apparently called) can stack lots of semiconductor devices, but note that these are originally fabricated as single layer chips and then they are bonded together to form a larger block.

More recently (and in real production), 3D packaging is being performed through a System in Package [inemi.org] (SiP) methodology (you may also see this referred to as a 'chip stack' technology). This is distinct from a multi-chip module [ibm.com] (MCM), where the chips are aligned horizontally on the packaging substrate. Today, a SiP is generally a memory module bonded upside down onto a non-memory device (though it can also be used to bond an RF device onto a non-RF device). This form of packaging is receiving attention from SEMATECH [pennnet.com] as well. Further information from SEMI is also available if you Google for "SEMI Forum: Mapping progress in 3D IC integration".

Beyond that, it's again hard, due to the password protected nature of conference materials and journals... but hopefully that's a good set of links to explore.

Re:Cooling is not the only problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209428)

DRAM does not use capacitors it is all transistors!
Even flash does not use capacitors again it is all transistors!

Here go read what a flip flot is
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flip-flop_(electronic s) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cooling is not the only problem (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209457)

DRAM most certainly uses capacitors (not flip flops) to store data. That's why it's dynamic-the charge leaks off over time and when read from.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DRAM [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cooling is not the only problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209497)

As chips become more and more complicated, more chip real estate is devoted to buffers to drive signals to different parts of the chip relative to the useful logic. I'm not an expert in high speed circuit design, but I would assume that these larger buffers as well as I/O circuitry, ESD protection, etc. could get moved to higher levels and withstand greater process variation. With high speed processors introducing stages devoted entirely to driving signals, would it be unreasonable to move some of this driving logic up a notch (as the kids say)? Of course, this is not true 3D as it's not very scalable, but you'd gain a significant amount of real estate.

Re:Cooling is not the only problem (0)

SirCyn (694031) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210029)

You talk about today's technology like it's permanent. I suppose 640K is engouh for you too?

Re:Cooling is not the only problem (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210919)

"the variation in later polishing used today is too rough for the effective printing of transistors"

sounds to me like he's talking about todays technology realistically, and expects than with some more development, we'll get there.

Like the brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209047)

And not coincidently, this is why head wounds that get through the skull bleed so much.

Re:Cooling channels allow chip fabrication in 3D! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209421)

I seriously doubt this will get anywhere. People have been toying around with idea for a long time and the space costs just aren't worth it.

the summary itself states that the coolant pipes will be ~100+ microns wide. equate that with the current 90 nano meters production processes (and eventually the 65 nano meter production processes planned in the future). Imagine how many transistors will have to be placed somewhere else just to allow the fluid to go through.

The above consideration does not even consider the effect of having such a strong ionic/electrical field embedded throughout the chip and what havoc that would cause with the already leaky transistors.

Even Phase change cooling is sheaper than this and gets much better results. It also doesn't play havoc with the electrical fields in the chip.

Re:Cooling channels allow chip fabrication in 3D! (1)

oringo (848629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212057)

This sounds like a good idea, but can someone with some knowledge in thermal dynamics shed some light into how the effectiveness of these micro pumps? I mean, come on, can those thin layers of liquid weighing less than a few grams actually cool a 20W device? If so, how fast must the pump be running?

No physicist am I, but... (1)

lyapunov (241045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208716)

It seems that using a field to push ions around would create "inertia" or damping on the signal that is pushing it.
 
Wouldn't this impact performance or timing issues within the chip?
 

Re:No physicist am I, but... (1)

Transcendent (204992) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208810)

These ions don't have anything to do with the electrical signals for computation. The ions are the coolant, so you're just simply inducing an electric field to push them along.

But you're right, it would cause issues if they were actually using them for signals, but it's simply so they can move the coolant around.

Re:No physicist am I, but... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208848)

On the other hand, if the GP is correct this might spur development of the inertial dampener.

Re:No physicist am I, but... (1)

lyapunov (241045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208869)

At first I thought they were using the computational signals to push, but after going through the article more carefully I realized that.
 
Having said that however, it seems that doing this would seriously complicate chip design as most of the actual work in chip design is dealing with electromagnetic concerns.
 
seems like this would be juju of the worst kind.

Re:No physicist am I, but... (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212380)

Are you referring to the electrical field generated by the electrodes in the channels?

The ions themselves dont generate an E-field large enough to affect anything above the molecular scale. And I would assume that the engineers have designed the channel so that there is no E-field present outside of the channel, which is entirely possible.

Essentially what they're doing on a large scale is moving electric dipoles using several differences in potential. The really cool thing about taking advantage of water's dipole nature is that you can move it in the presence of an E-field, just like any other collection of charge, and without any manipulation of the molecule. This means you could take clean tap water and use it(ignoring the large particulates in the solution). The article really isnt clear on the science, as with any news article.

Does anyone know anyone who knows anyone who works on this team? I'd be interested to see some of their research.

More importantly, can someone chime in on this? I'm still studying electricity and magnetism.

Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208720)

Wouldn't it be easier to do the cooling on the chip and use something that conducts heat very good on the chip? I mean, I would rather have lanes of some conductive, non moving material instead of some liquid running through my CPU, if you don't mind.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15208737)

Err, what's wrong with having liquid on your CPU? There are plenty of non-conductive liquids that won't damage it.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208797)

Yup, like copper for example. I guess that would be too simple - you can't get venture capital for adding copper bars to a chip...

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15211315)

Since when do big companies like Intel, AMD and IBM need venture capital? Surely there aren't any other companies making chips...

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (3, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208828)

Wouldn't it be easier to do the cooling on the chip and use something that conducts heat very good on the chip?

A conductor would have to be thick, which would take up a lot of space.

Moving s liquid with high heat capacity (such as water, which has ENORMOUS heat capacity) means you can move the heat out by transporting the liquid, rather than by conducting the heat THROUGH it. The liquid can then drop off the heat at the heat sink in a leisurely fashion on its way through. Heat only has to move by conduction across distances measured in molecular diameters rather than inches.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209401)

I have always thought that mercury would be the ideal liquid for this sort of closed loop system - it has a thermal conductivity / capacity of somewhere around 14x that of water (and thus would be 14x more efficient.) Granted there is that whole 'highly conductive and highly corrosive' aspect of mercury, plus the nasty side effect of being toxic - but if the system was properly engineered to take those into account, why not go for broke?

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209513)

Well here in the US the EPA would kick the manufactures a$$

one thing most people don't realize is that on top of being toxic and crosive and jsut plain out bad for everything mercury is also extreamly hard to clean up.

the only thing that can be used to correctly clean it is pure sulfer - everything else makes a partial bond and doesn't clean it up, and afterwards you end up with something that is just as bad if not worse than what you started with....

while i agree it would be neat and more than likly would work realy damn well i will have to say that time is better spend working with non toxic stuff until we have no choice

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15211339)

There's still mercury in my Thermostat in my apartment. I'm sure there's mercury being used in lots of other places too. There's no reason why we couldn't put it in computer chips. There's already a lot of toxic materials in a computer. I don't think 1 mL of mercury is going to make that much of a difference.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15212027)

Except that no company would do it because of the environmental problems. That thermometer you own that still uses mercury has obviously been in your possession for quite some time, I know where I live I haven't seen mercury thermometers availible for sale in probably twelve years.

Case in point, I work for a comapny that, among other things, disposes of mercury. Right now we have probably just under a thousand cubic feet of gas/water meter componenets in our building. Each one has only the tiniest drop of mercury, sealed in a vial, sealed in a protective houseing. Every single one of them is in find working condition, the only problem? People don't want mercury by their houses.

Furthermore, and this may be different for private ownders such as ourselves, but I know when that mercury is shipped to us it's required by fedral regulations to be labeled as hazardous waste, and must be dated on arrival because under other guidelines(EPA most likely, though I've never actually asked) we're only allowed to store those devices on site for one year before we're responsible for making sure the mercury is properly processed.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15214299)

actually, they just replaced the thermostat a couple weeks ago, because my old one wasn't working. It's a thermostat, not a thermometer.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15223273)

Sorry I misread. However, my point remains the same, mercury in thermostats is becoming less and less common and even the largest three manufacturers as well as Maine and New England are making an effort to have all of them replaced with non-mercury alternatives.

http://www.mercurypolicy.org/ [mercurypolicy.org]
I found that with a few seconds of googling but it's got quite a bit of information from people with a little more vested intrest int eh subject than myself.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210822)

Moving s liquid with high heat capacity (such as water, which has ENORMOUS heat capacity) means you can move the heat out by transporting the liquid
Unfortunately, it's not easy to move liquid through a pipe which is, if you'll excuse the technical jargon, pretty damn narrow [urbandictionary.com] .

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15214798)

On the contrary, it can be hard to stop liquid moving down narrow tubes. They used to call it capillary action when i was at school. Plants seem to use it a lot.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15219257)

Not exactly fast though, is it? Maybe that explains why larger plants use transpiration.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15210418)

Funny thing to want.
Any conductive material cannot do that infinitely. It has to dissipate that heat. If 'nothing moves' it will end up dissipating it back at the same place. That is why we have coolling fins that either increase surface area by being 3D and fans to carry the dissipated heat elsewhere.

Re:Channels of coolant, or just heat conductor? (1)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 8 years ago | (#15211217)

Actually, silicon is a very good thermal conductor, although not as good as copper (150 W/mk, vs. 400W/mk for copper.) However, as a heat transfer mechanism, both of these pale in comparison to moving water. A heat pipe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_Pipe [wikipedia.org] ), which transports heat by evaporating water at the hot end and condensing it at the cool end, can have an effective thermal conductivity many times better than copper. Moving vapor or liquid is also a lot more effective at moving heat long distances than thermal conduction - the motion of the fluid reduces the thermal resistance to almost zero after the heat has been transferred to the fluid.

Whole new meaning to processor blocking (4, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208736)

...and what's the term for a blocked CPU? Constipated???

Re:Whole new meaning to processor blocking (3, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208862)

No ... constiputed.

Re:Whole new meaning to processor blocking (1)

adyus (678739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209029)


I think the PC term is output retentive...

Re:Whole new meaning to processor blocking (1)

drwiii (434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209051)

"Kindling".

Re:Whole new meaning to processor blocking (1)

Silver Gryphon (928672) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210241)

Code Bloat

Don't worry though, some tweaker's gonna OC his pump to 2000psi and shoot the clog to France, like in the Liquid Plumr commercial.

Sounds Cool (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208741)

ok, bad pun is outta the way :)

Having wet, electically charged canals in the middle of a CPU sounds weird upon reflection. And aren't they huge compared to the circuits, where's the room?

hmm

Article says challenges include sealing it to prevent leaks...DUH.

Nor did they say the chip included OTHER circuits yet...THE WHOLE REASON for this cooling to exist.

Interesting idea, nothing more and won't be for some time.

Re:Sounds Cool (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209163)

I'm not sure about them, but I'd probably wrap the silicon densely around each canal, with sparser connections further out between canals. Something like the Sierpinski fractal.

Re:Sounds Cool (1)

sp0rk173 (609022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15214364)

You're not very smart, are you?

I slightly misunderstood the teaser (4, Informative)

Xiph (723935) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208756)

So for those of you who did the same.
This system works in multiple ways, it has an ionisation pulse that travels along the water lines
The pulse ionizes the water the ionized water is dragged by the pulse
the pulse alters the shape of a small membrane, boosting the pump.
as for the efficiency
We have shown that the power input required is in the microwatts, but you can get milliwatts of cooling
that being said, it's still work in progress, and they (according to the article) haven't solved leakage problems yet.

Re:I slightly misunderstood the teaser (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209363)

We have shown that the power input required is in the microwatts, but you can get milliwatts of cooling

I think it's important to point out that this is a meaningless statement. Cooling is not about creating heat flow, that happens naturally, cooling is about lowering resistance to heat transfer.

Even in the case where you assume the milliwatts of cooling is an improvement over what load could normally be sufficiently cooled, it's not meaningful without knowing the original power dissipation. An improvement of 10 mW with a normal heat load of 100 W is worthless, but it's a big deal if you were only dissipating 10 mW beforehand.

Blue Dye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15208762)

Does this mean that I will have to get rid of my 2 radiators, 8 cold cathods, and the blue dye. Will this work with 3/8 id or 1/2 id tubing?

From plants (4, Informative)

piotru (124109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208769)

Simplifying, the plants are thought to use similar idea to transport viscous liquid within their vascular system - phloem. Beautiful!
Link: http://www.cas.muohio.edu/~meicenrd/ANATOMY/Ch9_Tr ansport/phloem.html>

Re:From plants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209222)

More like hydrogen bonding intermolecular forces between water and cellulous, AM I RITE?

useful byproducts (1)

White Yeti (927387) | more than 8 years ago | (#15211388)

Maybe they could modify the process to drool out biodiesel [slashdot.org] .

New SI Base Unit Announced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15208783)

or about the width of a human hair
But, how many fit in the Library of Congress?

Caterpillar Drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15208801)

The Japanese had a working version of this concept on a macro scale a few years ago, and used it as a boat propulsion device with no external moving parts. I think it was popularized in a cold war submarine movie "The Hunt for Red October" (1990) as the "Caterpillar Drive". The Japanese version wasn't very practical, as I recall, due to a need for large superchilled superconductors and a lot power.

Re:Caterpillar Drive (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210300)

I'm surprised no one has mentioned water-powered computers [catb.org] yet!

Mini space shuttle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15208829)

So is this technology the same idea that drives the ion-propulsion shuttle... here we go, like this thing: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/1 5/2336215 [slashdot.org]
just in micro form?

I have a better idea. . . (3, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208918)

Why not implement oh, I don't know, say, a Peltier Junction directly into the heat spreader? Since you KNOW there is going to be a heat sink (no warranty if no heatsink is used) then any overheating concerns from running the junction without a heat sink are moot.

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) -- they're over-complicating the solution. Fluid directly in the chip might be a good idea, but let conduction and natural convection handle the heat transfer to the heat spreader. Don't over-complicate this thing with a pump that can break the second a nanometer particle gets into the system.

Re:I have a better idea. . . (1)

adam.dorsey (957024) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209834)

The problem with peltier coolers, as far as I know, is that any one with a decent wattage rating will require its own power supply because of the power that it alone draws; you can't just plug it into a spare molex. It consumes more power than it moves.

http://www.heatsink-guide.com/peltier.htm [heatsink-guide.com] has more information.

because Peltier coolers suck... (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209998)

Peltier coolers are so inefficient, they are terrible at cooling anything. You note no one uses one on any heatsinks right now, don't you?

Peltier coolers are incredibly inefficient, and the power they waste turns directly into heat (of course), so you end up heating up the thing you wanted to cool down.

Re:I have a better idea. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15226262)

They're way too inefficient.

m1cr0 pump (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208920)

I read "tiny micro pump" and stopped, thinking someone has spammed Slashdot with penis-enlargement scams ...

"I'm tellin' ya baby, it's not mine!"

Re:m1cr0 pump (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208977)

speak for yourself.

I'll need a large micro pump. :)

Re:m1cr0 pump (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209842)

Mine's a nanopump! Don't laugh, everybody knows that nanotech is way cooler than micro :-p

Electric fields strong enough to push particles... (3, Insightful)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15208953)

I'm no expert in ASIC design but that doesn't sound like the best thing to have in your extremely sensitive high-speed signals. I assume this field will remain constant and won't provide noise for the chip (or at least I hope) but it will introduce an electrical bias that needs to be planned and compensated for during the chip's layout.

Cooligy System (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15208996)

Here's a system that is doing something similiar, but on a larger scale. http://cooligy.com/micro_channel_cooling.html [cooligy.com]

Bleeding Chips !! (1)

Tuqui (96668) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209073)

Goodbye to Overheating problems, the next problems will be bleeding Chips!!.

So very appropriate (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209158)

Not only is this literally "cool," but many geeks are used to operating a micro-pump..........

[crickets...]

Micro is so 1960's (2, Funny)

beoswulf (940729) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209306)

I expect and demand every cool discovery to be prefixed with "nano"

Re:Micro is so 1960's (2, Funny)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15211972)

I expect and demand every cool discovery to be prefixed with "nano"
LOL, are you still wearing flares or something, d00d? Get with the program, it's all about nantwo-dot-o now.

Old School Pumping (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209424)

Why bother building the pump into the chip at all? What's wrong with a "mini" external pump, pushing the coolant through simple channels with the traditional pressure gradient? The MEMs on the chip take space that computing HW could occupy. Maybe some MEMs valves and sensors to optimize flows through varying areas as they heat differently during different processing tasks. But the pump can be outboard, where logic HW would be less useful because of signal latency.

Re:Old School Pumping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209794)

I'm not sure that I'm reading the article correctly, but I'd say that the difference is that the effect is less like pumping a current, and rather more like using a piezo electric diaphragm to distributing the thermal gradient across the chip more efficiently via thermoaccoustics.

Pretty clever to exploit spaces in the chip in a tiered chip in that way.

Re:Old School Pumping (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210016)

No, they're pumping water thru tiny channels with MEMs like digestive peristalsis. Seems a waste of die layer volume. They could put the MEMs pumps at the edges, or in another layer, with microchannels, if they want to show off MEMs coolness. FWIW, water seems a poor thermal carrier, vaporizing at 100C, unless they use the heat to pump it. Which makes my way cooler than theirs, with minimal or no MEMs needed.

Sure would suck if impurities of molcule size (1)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209539)

...could screw up your chip forever. Its not like you can roto-rooter the thing. The puritity and perfection of the fluid to flow through channels like this would itself be prohibitive for now.

Micro-Pimp? (1)

se7en11 (833841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15209599)

Did any one else read the headline as "Micro-Pimp"? I was really curious to see what midget pimps were going to do for the furture of computer chips.

compare to brain organization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209725)

sounds similar to the central nervous system organization

someone with a copy of grays anatomy handy take a deep look in the nervous system section.

somewhere you will find an electron micrograph image showing the few nano meter gap that exists between neurons in the cns which is filled with cerebro spinal fluid

Feasibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15209905)

Two things: First of all, most of the holes people on Slashdot are pointing out are wrong. You do need this type of cooling for some applications. 3d IC technology is coming -- it is working quite well in acadamic environments.

Second of all, the major problem with microchannel cooling is contamination. The chip right now is sealed to prevent e.g. stray sodium ions wandering in and breaking it. Eventually, chips break because of this sort of effect. When you have fluid flowing in and out, it's very hard to keep contaminants out. Microchannel cooling works in lab for a few months, but doesn't make for chips that work in industry for years.

Re:Feasibility (1)

Malluck (413074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15211333)

So seal the cooling system within the chip. All you have to do is intergrate the radiator and heatsink as part of the unit.

Pointless for desktop PCs (2, Interesting)

Rob Simpson (533360) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210050)

"Innovative cooling systems will be needed for future computer chips that will generate more heat than current technology"

Except for supercomputers, servers, and hard-core gamers with air conditioning, who is going to want chips that will generate substantially more heat than current chips? If CPUs alone start using hundreds of watts of power, people are going to take notice, and even the most naive shopper will start taking this into account. Already, Intel has realized [wikipedia.org] that their ridiculous space heaters are a dead end.

How do you...? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210077)

How do you put a sphy.... uhmmm sphygnomo.. mona.. uhmm (google, copy, paste) Sphygmomanometer on a CPU anyways?

plus 3, Tr0ll) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15210484)

of th3 aboVe (7000+1400+700)*4

Not much new, apparently (2, Informative)

Aimak (652182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210548)

Although not many details are given, it seems to me this people just adapted an existing analytical technology called Capillary Electrophoresis [ceandcec.com] . The piezo pump is a clever addition to the system to improve the micro-liter per second flows typically obtained in CE technology.

I wonder where and how they want to hang the liquid reservoir with the cooling solution. The processor may have to come then with an attached infusion bag like those you get at hospitals.

Need for new kernel error (2, Funny)

nitrocloud (706140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15210637)

Now if our CPUs could drown, somewhere near the "printer on fire" error, there needs to be a "CPU is downing" error, right?

Just make sure to look out for (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15210654)

ICEBURGS!
TITANIC-OWNED!

Can it withstand cold temperatures? (2, Interesting)

DaFrogBoy (519141) | more than 8 years ago | (#15211165)

"The prototype chip contains numerous water-filled micro-channels, grooves about 100 microns wide, or about the width of a human hair."

Being that I live in the north, I am a bit skeptical about water being inside of the chip. They didn't mention anything about how it can handle cold temperatures.

If you were to transport an item with one of these cooling mechanisms in the winter time (perhaps to a repair location) is there the potential that the water in the channels could freeze? Would it be capable of withstanding that amount of expansion when the water becomes ice?

microscope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15211485)

So now the people with dicks so small they need a microscope to see, you can now have a penis pump to go with it =)

And it sounds like a magma flow. (1)

cpuffer_hammer (31542) | more than 8 years ago | (#15213481)

More to the point is this not like the catapiller drive used by the Red October in Hunt for Red October?

Little channels, little cooling (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15213679)

Very impressive - but pointless I suspect. Channels that small won't hold much fluid, which means very little cooling capacity.
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