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MSI Develops a Heat-Driven Cooler

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.

Power 173

V!NCENT tips us to a write-up about an addition to MSI's Ecolution motherboard which harvests heat from the chipset to power a fan. The device is based on a Stirling engine. The heat from the chipset expands a trapped gas, which pushes against a piston to generate power. The article contains a YouTube video of how the device works. According to MSI, the device has 70% efficiency.

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173 comments

Good thing it is 70% efficient (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616422)

otherwise all that waste heat would be wasted.

Re:Good thing it is 70% efficient (2, Insightful)

PMBjornerud (947233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617236)

If you want to remove that waste heat before it burns the chip to a cinder, then yes, you probably want some degree of efficiency.

Pff (5, Funny)

illegibledotorg (1123239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616428)

MSI just threw this together so that their lead engineer could finish his bitchin' Steampunk case mod.

Re:Pff (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616488)

what other reason would there be?

though things like this should be used more often. a low power heat pump to supply extra power. A few extra watts come in handy.

Can you imagine an Acer laptop that can partially recharge the battery while it's running? Or at the very least power the secondary fans.

Re:Pff (1)

Sprite_tm (1094071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616906)

Can you imagine an Acer laptop that can partially recharge the battery while it's running? Nope. Can't say I can. You're free to patent it though, though I think you'd be having some trouble getting the patent office to accept your patent...

Re:Pff (1)

Soft Cosmic Rusk (1211950) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617040)

Can you imagine an Acer laptop that can partially recharge the battery while it's running?
Ehh... Me think you have problems with laws of physics!

partially is the key word (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617056)

the efficiency may be only about 10% or so. No violation of the second law of thermodynamics - just move along people.

Re:partially is the key word (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617592)

If you are recovering waste heat that you can do something with, there's something wrong in that chain of energy. It's almost always better to improve the efficiency of the main thing (even by a few percent) than to tack on the extra maintenance problems of secondary waste heat regeneration systems.

Re:Pff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617400)

Not really, it would just be recycling the energy is a fairly closed system. No breaking of laws anywhere.

Think of the rain cycle, there is water, water is heated, it rises into the atmosphere cools and becomes clouds, and eventually falls back down to continue that cycle. It doesn't always last forever either, landscapes change, climates change and so on.

It would need to be charged eventually because of some of the heat lost, the LCD/LEDs and audio, oh and any motors.

I really wish more people would use machines that recycle the wasted energy in some way, no matter how small the efficiency (well, maybe like, 30%+ to be considered, lower if it can be done cheaply)
There is loads of technology that could be used to power themselves, if only for a little while. (hell, some are in common use just now, the car for example... batteries)

Re:Pff (2, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617110)

Aye on the steampunk. The engine could power a small hand-wound dynamo that heats up the boiler for the steam effect you need for those "special" web sites. Don't forget the three colour LED's you need to light the steam.

Efficient? Sorry, what's that? Yes, I know we're just re-using heat that would otherwise be wasted, but we'd be getting multidimensional cool...

Re:Pff (1)

ma1wrbu5tr (1066262) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617532)

Not to mention, it's going to blow all that hot air straight at my RAM. Seriously, that's the way the thing is mounted in the picture.

So ... (5, Funny)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616434)

It has to heat itself to ... cool ... itself? Goddamnit, I hate recursion.

Re:So ... (1)

t35t0r (751958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616602)

It has to heat itself to ... cool ... itself? Goddamnit, I hate recursion.

Yes because if it wasn't heating it wouldn't need to be cooled. This is great, I wonder why it hadn't been developed earlier. Depending on the CPU and the dissipation created by the heatsink the fan doesn't need to go more than 2500rpm.

Please define efficiency for me (4, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616442)

Because I thought to get 70% efficiency there would have to be a couple of thousand degrees C difference between the hot and cold sides. Or have AMD decided laptops are not their core market for the next generation of chips?

 

Re:Please define efficiency for me (2, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616460)

Efficiency is just a matter of how much of the input energy is turned into some kind of practical work, in this case spinning a fan. That being said I'd be surprised if they were as high as 70%. Sounds like eco-friendly (note the name of the motherboard) marketing to me. Still, a neat idea.

Re:Please define efficiency for me (5, Informative)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616500)

That being said I'd be surprised if they were as high as 70%
Prepare to keep those eyebrows exactly where they are- The 70% refers to the transfer of heat energy to air pressure 'power' within the piston. It's still impressive, but the +70% claim relates only to one step of the process.

Re:Please define efficiency for me (1)

DirtySouthAfrican (984664) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616484)

I think they mean the Coefficient of Performance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coefficient_of_performance [wikipedia.org] That gives you about a 28 degree difference.

Re:Please define efficiency for me (1)

BoChen456 (1099463) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616532)

COP isn't a percentage. And I have no idea how you pulled 28 degrees out off 70%

Re:Please define efficiency for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617022)

I didn't do any math, but I assume he used the idea of a Carnot engine, basically a heat engine that is as efficient as it could be given the heat differential it is given to work withh.

Re:Please define efficiency for me (1)

Sectrish (949413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616498)

Maybe it's the figure they use to contrast it with other kinds of coolers, I bet they decided that the heat they harvest can be seen as something that wouldn't have been used any other way and as such can count as "free" percents.

i.e.: Electric only, this model would get 50% efficiëncy, as would other comparable models from other companies. Yet thanks to a power source not directly of your own making, they can decrease the electric input for the same output, perhaps making as much as 70% efficiëncy out of the "electricity".

Re:Please define efficiency for me (5, Insightful)

BoChen456 (1099463) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616502)

I suspect 70% efficiency means they can reach 70% of the theoretical limit maximum at these temperatures. The theoretical limit for heat reservoirs of 55C and 25C is about 10% http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnot_heat_engine#Carnot.27s_theorem [wikipedia.org].

So really this fan can convert up to 7% of the waste heat. This doesn't sound very impressive, but as long as it provides a little bit of convection it'll be better than passive cooling.

Re:Please define efficiency for me (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617282)

The question is, is it more efficient than heat pipes? Since they also are heat engines (with no moving parts! sort of), but they're a LOT quieter and more flexible (literally!) than fans.

That's the critical question. (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617232)

You're absolutely correct that an ideal Carnot engine would have to have about a thousand degrees if it rejects heat to room temperature.

Typically what's done in these cases is to compare the efficiency of the engine to the Carnot efficiency. So the claim of 70% efficiency really means that the engine is 70% as efficient as a Carnot engine at the temperatures it operates between. The real efficiency then is n_carnot*n_engine. Their real efficiency claim is therefore probably closer to 4.9%.

But that's not the only convention. Sometimes the comparison is made to the ideal version of whatever cycle they're using. For a stirling engine, I believe the ideal still approaches Carnot efficiency, so that wouldn't affect their claims, but you can see how some shady math can be used to get people excited.

Headline misleading (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616450)

It's a fucking fan, not a cooler. In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics.

Re:Headline misleading (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616478)

It reduces the temperature of the chip. I would call that a cooler.

Re:Headline misleading (5, Insightful)

slackergod (37906) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616576)

In a physics sense, no, that's not a cooler.

Typical "air conditioner" situation: you want to make the inside of a room cooler than the outside temperature.
Since the room starts out similar in temp to the outside, you have to spend energy pushing heat "uphill" to
an increasingly warmer outside. Making heat flow against the direction it would normally flow,
that's a cooler in the thermodynamic sense.

In the CPU situation, you want to make the inside of the cpu EQUAL to the outside temperature.
Since the running CPU starts out way warmer than the outside temp, the heat will flow naturally on it's
own "downhill" to the outside. Any sort of cooling system merely hastens the flow.

In this situation, any device like a fan, etc is merely a more efficient radiator...
as the temp of cpu gets closer to the outside, this device loses efficiency... and in no case
could it get the cpu any _colder_ than the outside.

Being able to do that is what makes something a "cooler" in the physics sense.

Re:Headline misleading (1)

schueppert (1249552) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616800)

This "invention" is a fan that is more efficient when placed in a temperature gradient, assuming the desired direction of air displacement is the same as the direction of the temperature gradient. But isn't this true for any fan? A temperature gradient will create a flow of air across a fan that drives the fan so as to create an increased flow of air. I'm not sure how capturing that energy, converting it to electrical energy and then back into mechanical energy, is going to improve matters.

Re:Headline misleading (4, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616858)

In a physics sense
I'll have to stop you right there.

The rest of what you say is mostly true[*], but just because a term has a specific meaning in a specific context does not mean it's wrong when it has a different meaning in a different context. In both cases, the chip is cooled, making them a cooler, i.e., something that cools.

[*] I say "mostly true" because even in an air conditioner, the heat is "flowing downhill", as it were. The difference is that is the "bottom of the hill" is being manipulated through changes in pressure (or more generally, through work)--essentially by also raising the "top of the hill". In both cases, the net temperature is being raised (in compliance with the laws of thermodynamics).

Additionally, I wonder if you are confusing the terms "cooler" and "heat pump". Is a "cooler" something distinct from a "heat pump" in a "physics or thermodynamics" sense? I'm thinking the former is merely an informal term for the latter.

Re:Headline misleading (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617328)

'll have to stop you right there.

You didn't stop anybody anywhere. You made a contrary argument. Get over yourself, douchebag.

Re:Headline misleading (1)

lordofwhee (1187719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617026)

...and in no case could it get the cpu any _colder_ than the outside.

Phase-change cooling begs to differ.

Re:Headline misleading (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617310)

Read it again. That statement was restricted to devices like fans. With that restriction, it is true.

Re:Headline misleading (4, Funny)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616754)

It reduces the temperature of the chip. I would call that a cooler.

Using a general term when a more specific one would be more appropriate and more meaningful is ... well, do I really need to spell it out? Or does referring to the common house fly as an anthropod, and your coworkers as invertebrates have any value?

The OP was correct. They're plastic fans. No more, no less. And if Wikipedia is any indication of common or appropriate usage, a cooler [wikipedia.org] is most likely where you'll find fermented malted barley refreshments.

Hell, while I'm at it, there's no such thing as soy milk. it's SOY JUICE! Soybeans don't have and will never have teats.

Ok, I feel better.

Re:Headline misleading (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616788)

Hell, while I'm at it, there's no such thing as soy milk. it's SOY JUICE! Soybeans don't have and will never have teats.
Rule 34 on the soybeans.

Why? (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616466)

A fan can't draw much more than a few watts. What's the point? It seems like a complicated array of technology just to save a few watts of power. You'd be better off buying a more efficient power supply if you wanted to be "green".

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616496)

A fan can't draw much more than a few watts. What's the point? It seems like a complicated array of technology just to save a few watts of power. You'd be better off buying a more efficient power supply if you wanted to be "green".

That makes the assumption that you can't do both. Why wouldn't you be able to do both?

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616712)

That mechanism looks like a lot of complexity and cost to save what probably amounts to a single watt. How much more energy would it take to make that over a one watt fan? Not only that, a large passive heat sink would probably do even better, nothing to break and it would just use existing air flow. I've yet to own a computer that has or needs a fan just for the chipset, not necessarily through trying, it's not really that necessary to have.

Re:Why? (1, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616742)

So if you don't own a computer built in the last 8 years what are you doing on slashdot? Every single video chipset has it's own cooling system, every CPU since the Pentium's have had their own cooling fans. High RPM hard drives sometimes get their own fans, Power supplies get their own fans, Plus one giant slow moving fan for the rest of the case.

Every modern laptop has at least one fan built into it. Something tells me your either deaf and can't hear them, or you just haven't cracked up a case in a long while.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616812)

You got it totally wrong. If I have to be specific, then here it is: If you paid attention to anything in the article, you would know that this is a northbridge cooler. I have yet to own a computer with a fan just for the northbridge. As far as I'm concerned, it's unnecessary in any properly designed system.

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

AncientPC (951874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617564)

In the article they referred to nVidia chipsets, and AFAIK they have been unified chipsets since nForce2 (I could be wrong). Motherboards with these chipsets usually have those tiny chipset HSFs that rattle after 6+ months, and I always end up replacing them with passive heatsinks anyway.

But honestly, even though the chipsets can get relatively hot (35C+) passive heatsinks has worked fine for me.

Re:Why? (1)

Lost Race (681080) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617164)

Every modern laptop has at least one fan built into it.
Panasonic Toughbooks don't. At least mine doesn't.

Every single video chipset has it's own cooling system
If by "cooling system" you mean "heatsink" then that may be true. It's still possible to get video cards somewhat off the bleeding edge without fans on them.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617392)

Proof once again that nothing is so simple, so plainly stated, that some fucking idiot won't misunderstand it [slashdot.org] and get modded up for his lack of reading comprehension. THAT MEANS YOU, peragrin, you douche. if you don't know about a subject, just shut the fuck up and let the adults speak, mmkay?

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616740)

That makes the assumption that you can't do both. Why wouldn't you be able to do both?
You can do both, but his point is that if you're looking at the efficiency of your dollar, you'd be better buying something else that'll save you more power than this fan will. Buy a better power supply, new monitor, more power efficient CPU, better light bulbs, etc. For the amount of energy saved, it's likely that there's quite a long list of things that could save more energy for your dollar, and since you (presumably) have a finite amount of money, it'd be better to buy one of those things than this fan.

Re:Why? (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616826)

That makes the assumption that you can't do both. Why wouldn't you be able to do both?

Because eventually the cost will hit the point where it exceeds what it would cost you in productivity/performance to just use a less power hungry computer.

Re:Why? (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616504)

Well, for one thing, with no extra complexity or power input of any kind you could have a fan that automatically speeds up as the CPU gets hotter. Not to mention that, by definition, the conversion of some of the heat into mechanical energy sucks up some of the heat.

-:sigma.SB

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616698)

Not only that, but atleast according to the linked article, this is somehow supposed to be ecological. I dont see how this is more than a marketing toy. They have atleast four or five plastic injectionmouldings, and extra heatsink that requires complex shaping, when the traditional solution would have all of one heatsink and a standard mass produced fan. Economics of scale drive down the economic and enviromental costs of producing those standard bits.

While IMO its not a reasonable solution at all, it is adorably cool.

Re:Why? (2, Informative)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616708)

True, fans don't draw much power, but they do fail quite regularly due to the electric motor wearing out, or the motherboard's fan power going dead. As a system builder I see those problems all the time. A self-powered non-electric fan would get rid of both those failure scenarios. It's not like your PC is going to stop producing heat all of a sudden - at least not while its powered on and working.

Re:Why? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617398)

True, fans don't draw much power, but they do fail quite regularly due to the electric motor wearing out, or the motherboard's fan power going dead. As a system builder I see those problems all the time.

I've seen a lot of fan failures as well. The number one cause for them is bearing failure. Second is someone catching the wires on something (or having them loose where they rubbed). This would not address what I've seen as the number one cause of fan failure.

Re:Why? (1)

Darthmalt (775250) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616724)

At the moment I don't see this being as big deal for home users. However for server farms the savings could be worth the investment.

Re:Why? (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616728)

How about saving your CPU when your electric controlled fan on your server silently bites the dust while you're away on vacation or the like? I have to replace a minimum of 1 CPU fan every year at my house and sometimes "CPU fan" is replaced by "entire motherboard, memory, etc." because a fan failed and the CPU took everything with it.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616752)

This being Slashdot, the gathering of engineers, scientists, and technology-lovers alike, I suggest we string this individual up as an example of what happens to advocates against egregious uses of technology for the simple sake of how damned cool they are! Who's with me!

Re:Why? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616802)

A fan can't draw much more than a few watts. What's the point? It seems like a complicated array of technology just to save a few watts of power.
A fan needs a control system, sensors to judge the temperature of the processor, algorithms to tell it when to turn on and off.

This thing is SO geeky and elegant, it will cool an advanced bit of digital processing technoogy with a very analogous 19th century steampunk-like device that uses the heat itself as power for the cooling process, instead of a sensor-processor-algorithm-power-fan circuit, it's directly sensor-fan, where the sensor is the power.

If you can't see the point, well I pity you, and demand that you turn over your geek card and nerd badge, you poseur.

You'd be better off buying a more efficient power supply if you wanted to be "green".
Why couldn't one do "both"?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616882)

Typical marketing crap. Zero value.

Screw the green (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617014)

Normal fans are prone to outages. This system may be a nice back up on that. As to how green it is, well, they would be better off getting all OSs to push systems to sleep.

Re:Why? (1)

thsths (31372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617368)

It seems like a complicated array of technology just to save a few watts of power.
It should not be complicated. A Stirling engine is a very simple machine, and it typically lasts a long time. Also you have an automatic temperature control, because it only runs when the chip is hot. So I think they may be on to something.

Hmm... (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616476)

So, the Sterling engine runs on the temperature gradient between the chip and the ambient environment. It uses this energy to...do what...increase the gradient some more? By pulling in cooler air from outside the case I guess?

Seems like it would work best when it's needed least, and vice-versa.

Re:Hmm... (4, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616560)

No, it works best when the temperature difference between the CPU and the surrounding ist highest. Which usually is the case due to the CPU getting hotter.

Re:Hmm... (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616758)

I've never seen a cooling unit that did anything but exploit the temperature gradient. That's why there are fans blowing air from outside your case into it and why server rooms are kept so damn cold all the time. Since the CPU can perform well at temperatures well over room temperature, this usually works quite well.

Buh? (1)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616490)

It has to be hot for the fan to run, but the fan makes it cool, so.... huh? I can't seem to wrap my brain around this one.

Re:Buh? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616628)

anytime you use a sterling engine to harvest energy you have to be affecting the temperature on the cooler or the hotter side. Sterling engines have to have radiators for the cool side, and that in turn will heat up, causing a local increase in temperature. Large scale practical sterling engines use a source of coolness, such as running water, but there's nothing like that in a PC. I don't see this as cooling anything unless you are leading the radiator ou the back of the computer. Energy is always conserved. If you are using energy to turn a fan around the heat sink, you're just pushing heat around, not removing it, and generating a small amount of heat by turning the fan too. That's all I see this gimmic as, is just pushing the heat around.

Re:Buh? (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616666)

The source of coolness is the air outside the case, circulated in by the fan?

Re:Buh? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617048)

but look at the fan. it's right there on the heat sink. If it was powering an exhaust fan I'd agree with you there, but it's not. It's blowing heat off the CPU and into the case, to do things like swirl around the "cool side" radiator of the engine, which is completely counterproductive. You don't want to heat up the cooler, that drops its efficiency greatly.

Re:Buh? (5, Funny)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616718)

Large scale practical sterling engines use a source of coolness

That's why every MSI board will be sold with a life-size poster of The Fonz.

mechanical dong (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616492)

Thank God I clicked the wikipedo article. I didn't learn a damn thing about what a sterling engine is or how it works, but I was treated to a picture of a "Rhombic Drive Beta" or whatever. Just looked like a huge mechanical dong to me

But the winner is... (5, Insightful)

whit3 (318913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616518)

The moving part is cute, of course, and gives a bit of visual
tension to the apparatus you see through your peekaboo case.

Still, it's a bit of a clunker compared to the old-tech way of
making a no-moving-parts air pump powered by waste
heat. I refer, of course, to the 'chimney'.

Re:But the winner is... (1)

snarkh (118018) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617536)


Unfortunately, some people may not like a chimney attached to the motherboard of their computer, especially a laptop.

Are we going to get religious about the subject? (4, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616540)

The idea of using a Stirling engine is actually not bad, but you may also be able to run peltier elements backwards, in which case you wouldn't get any mechanical problems related to moving parts.

But even better would be if the energy loss could be decreased in the first place. Heat produced by a computer is actually only annoying.

The Stirling engine [wikipedia.org] was invented by Reverend Dr. Robert Stirling.

Re:Are we going to get religious about the subject (3, Informative)

iksbob (947407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616966)

Peltier modules are nowhere near as efficient as sterling engines. Using a peltier module, you would be lucky to get enough power to light a small LED from the typical chipset to atmosphere temperature differential. They work fine as heat pumps since you've already got a big sink strapped to the hot side, but when you start trying to use them the other way around - to generate power from a temperature differential - their inefficiency shows through.

Re:Are we going to get religious about the subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617354)

The Sirling Engine picture on the wikipedia article looks pretty phallic. So is a lot of religious imagery, so...

70% efficiency my foot (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616578)

You'd need a 1000K with an ambient of 300K in order to obtain 70% efficiency, and that's without taking into account the parasitic aerodynamic and friction losses.

If you've already got a 1000K CPU, then this stirling isn't exactly going to help.

"They can only copy us..." (0, Flamebait)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616636)

How many times have I heard rather short-sighted types say things like the Chinese/Japanese/Indians/whoever only copy us?

This is something we should have been looking at years ago - but no doubt someone other than we Americans will get this technology's price point down to practicality before any of our fearless CEOs get up off the R&D bucks that they fear will come straight outta their quarter to a half billion dollar annual compensation packages...

As a guy with just enough thermodynamics... (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616644)

...to appreciate how FREAKING AWESOME this idea is; I have to say, I'd buy one.

Since I don't actively build PCs anymore (though this is cool enough to build a machine just to use it) I'd have to mount it on my bald head to cool my crazy off in the summer :D Oh, and show case it, of course!

Am I right on thinking this is the first viable, potentially wide-spread use of a Sterling Engine?!

Re:As a guy with just enough thermodynamics... (2, Informative)

kryten_nl (863119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616690)

Am I right on thinking this is the first viable, potentially wide-spread use of a Sterling Engine?!
No, read the article on wikipedia. Stirling engines are very popular when used as a cryocooler.

They need a rechargeable battery. (1, Interesting)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616656)

Especially if it only uses waste heat to drive itself.

How much waste heat can they get from a modern power-efficient CPU? Let's see the thermal dissipation:

AMD Athlon x2 BE2300 or Inten Penryn. Both at about a few Watts at idle, and 60 (AMD)-90 (Penryn) Watts under load - so average let's say is 30W, assuming a box idles more.

30Wx70% = 21W for a fan. That's PLENTY for moving a fan - if the CPU is doing work.

However, at idle, you may only get 4 Watts if you're at 70%. However the fan speeds don't necessarily drop by that much in a normal computer that you see. Probably due to an engineered safety margin, but the fan is not getting a lot.

So unless the heat charges a battery and the fan is drawing from that battery, they may not be able to produce enough fan speed at idle.

And of course, using a battery lowers your total efficiency to around 40%. Again, even if you cut the 21W to 13W, it's still plenty to drive a fan. So the question is, how they're going to use the excess energy to charge a battery to use when the CPU is idle.

Re:They need a rechargeable battery. (1)

insane_machine (952012) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616700)

If the fan shuts off, because the CPU is at idle, wouldn't that cause an increase in the temperature of the CPU thus providing a large enough difference in temperature to power the fan again?

Re:They need a rechargeable battery. (1)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616912)

Yes it would, but it's not the question - even in this situation, there's still no assurance that the average fan speed will be high enough to lower the CPU temperature enough - so on average during idle, the fan is spun up and down, lowering the CPU temperature by X % on average.

The question remains tho, if cooling down by X % on idle is enough cooling.

Re:They need a rechargeable battery. (3, Informative)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616710)

If it is idle, it is too cool to drive a fan. So fan does not cool it. If temperature raises too much, there is plenty energy for fan, so it cools the chip. What is so hard in understanding it?

Re:They need a rechargeable battery. (1)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616900)

The problem is, if it's idle, it's NOT too cool to drive a fan. Most computer's CPU fan still runs at a high enough RPM even when the CPU is idle.

I don't think this setup can provide it if energy is not stored.

RTFA (1)

Leuf (918654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616956)

This cooler is on the northbridge, not the CPU. One would assume the northbridge to have more stable loading conditions. However it's a heckuva lot better to use a larger passive cooler whenever possible, not add more moving parts in addition to the fan. Those dinky motherboard fans are usually the first to die.

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616670)

If you want to save energy, turn down your heat and use your computer as a radiator.

This could be the market-window Sony has been looking for.

CPU Damage? (1)

Gay for Linux (942545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616766)

I'd rather spend the extra watt on a constant fan that risk damaging the CPU in cooling/heating/cooling/heating cycles.

Kinetic athstetic! (1)

Waccoon (1186667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616918)

I bet it sells by the truckload if it's UV reactive!

Seriously, it's just another toy for people with too much money. Anyone concerned about power usage should just get a slightly less powerful chip.

Besides, the sterling engine is the wrong direction for regenerative power, and the extra complexity of the unit probably just impedes airflow, making the chip run hotter or the fan work harder. That hardly improves efficiency.

Great, how about focusing on the real power drains (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617006)

such as "desktop" CPUs. Why are these still being produced, when the "mobile" variants of the same models are much more efficient? For example, look at these two:

http://processorfinder.intel.com/details.aspx?sSpec=SLA98 [intel.com]
http://processorfinder.intel.com/details.aspx?sSpec=SLA49 [intel.com]

Both of them are Core 2 Duos, 65 nm process, 2 GHz, 2 MB cache. But one of them is a "desktop" model, and I wonder what the hell it's doing to waste almost double the power of the "mobile" one.

Re:Great, how about focusing on the real power dra (2, Informative)

sssssss27 (1117705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617204)

There is also about a $100 price difference between those two chips. I imagine they are manufactured to different quality standards. The mobile chip probably has less leakage or something to that effect.

Re:Great, how about focusing on the real power dra (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617212)

Why are these still being produced, when the "mobile" variants of the same models are much more efficient?

The T7250 appears to be about twice the price of the E4400.
I can get an E4400 for 129.00. Best I could find on a T7250 was 262.50

A waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617108)

When CPUs and now fans are greater better and more efficient, what a shame it is that it's all a waste of effort because the GFX card companies continue to ignore efficiency and focus on raw power.
I don't want 100 fps with 200 Watts drawn, I want 60 fps with 10 Watts drawn.

If you graphics engine is only doing 20 fps when you want 30 fps, then stop blaming the graphics card, it's your bad programming. They seem to 'solve' the problem by pushing up the requirements for the game.

Yet Intel and AMD are using fewer Watts with each release and still making faster CPUs. This fan is great, but overall it's not going to help with the power hungry/wasteful graphics cards.

It occurs to me that... (1)

drgould (24404) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617126)

as I understand it, single-cylinder Stirling engines are not self-starting. I wonder how MSI gets around that.

I also notice that the heat-pipe going to the radiator is on the hot side of the Stirling engine. So as the heat is dissipated by the radiator, the hot side of the engine cools down, which causes the engine to slow down. I know eventually it will reach some equilibrium speed, but I wonder how hot the CPU must be to power the engine. Maybe it would be better to put the heat-pipe to the radiator on the cool side of the engine?

I don't believe it (1)

whoisisis (1225718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617256)

A Carnot engine is a theoretical device, a heat engine,
with the uniqe property of having the maximum
theoretical heat effeciency a heat engine can have.
(The carnot engine is very impractical.)

No heat engine operating between two heat resouars
with temperatures T and t, t less than T, can have an effeciency
of more than e = 1 - t/T. (t and T are in kelvin)
For an engine operating at 70 % effeciency,
e = 0.7, so
T = t/(1 - 0.7). If the cooler works at room temperature,
we can probably set t = 20 degrees centigrade = 293 kelvin.
Therefore, T = 293/0.3 = 977 kelvin ~ 700 degrees celcius ~ 1300 degrees fahrenheit.

Solder melts at about 200 degrees celcius.

"more then" ? (1)

aleph42 (1082389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617326)

TFA boasts: "MSI 'Air Power Cooler', more then just saving watts!"; are they trying to appeal to the leet, spelling impaired internet people?

Other than (sorry, then) that, isn't the fan really small? It's kind of strange to see two heatsinks and such a small fan together. But the fact that the Stirling engine is both draining heat from the chip and using the power for the fan is kinda cool. Also that means the fan's speed is autoregulated: no temperature difference, no fan noise.

Anyways, it's for the motherboard chipset; those usually don't have a fan at all!

IAAPhysicist, 70% efficiency is bullshit (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617340)

It's not that clear from the article how they are defining efficiency, but if they are claiming that they are converting 70% of heat energy into air flow energy, simple thermodynamics can tell you that that is bullshit. If you assume an ambient temperature of 300K, then you need a temperature of 1000K MINIMUM to achieve 70% energy conversion. The Carnot efficiency is 1-Tc/Th, which is the best efficiency possible for a heat engine. Typical heat engines are a fraction of that efficiency.

My only concern (1)

wozzinator (1079319) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617512)

My only concern with this type of setup is what type of liquid/gas they'll be using inside the chamber to move the piston and also what the heat sink will be made out of. If the liquid/gas in the chamber's boiling point is too high the gas will start to expand _way_ too late.Not to mention the fact that depending on the gas they use you'll probably have to buy a new one every so often since the gas will escape if it is less dense than the heat sink material. Granted the solidworks youtube video is nice, i'm still not sure i'd buy this heatsink for my chipset due to the complexity of the chemistry involved.

Since it requires a heat differential... (1)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617534)

...between the CPU and the outside world, why not just use a Peltier device in reverse to power a conventional electric fan?
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