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Sony Hardware Technology

Sony's Thermal Sheet Good As Paste For CPU Cooling 195

Posted by timothy
from the also-better-with-salsa dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sony has demonstrated a thermal sheet that it claims matches thermal paste in terms of cooling ability while beating it on life span. The key to the sheet is a combination of silicon and carbon fibers, to produce a thermal conductive layer that's between 0.3 and 2mm thick. In the demonstration, the same CPU was cooled by thermal paste and the thermal sheet side-by-side, with the paste keeping the processor at a steady 53 degrees Celsius. The sheet achieved a slightly better 50 degrees Celsius. The actual CPU used in the demonstration wasn't identified. Sony wants to get the thermal sheet used in servers and for projection units, but I can definitely see this being an option for typical PC builds, too. It's certainly going to be less messy and probably a lot cheaper than buying a tube of thermal paste."
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Sony's Thermal Sheet Good As Paste For CPU Cooling

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  • Re:thickness (Score:5, Informative)

    by BradleyUffner (103496) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:15AM (#40674067) Homepage

    isn't the advice to have rather less than 2mm paste between the chip and heatsink?

    2mm of thermal paste is WAY too much and will most likely be less effective than no paste at all. Ideally there should be no visible paste at all after the heat sink is applied. The paste's job is only to fill in the tiny air gaps made by the imperfections in the "flat" contact areas.

  • Meh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Antony T Curtis (89990) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:16AM (#40674073) Homepage Journal

    3M has had a thermal sheet which has outperformed paste for more than 10 years already.

    How is this news?

  • Re:thermal paste? (Score:5, Informative)

    by gblackwo (1087063) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:20AM (#40674135) Homepage
    Yes, definitely.

    It improves heat conduction by filling the small surface defects that would create miniature pockets of air. Air is a very good insulator, and very poor at conducting heat.

    There is a noticeable difference, you can research it further, but as cheap as a tube of thermal paste is, why not spend an extra couple bucks on your shiny new processor?
  • Re:thickness (Score:4, Informative)

    by somersault (912633) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:26AM (#40674217) Homepage Journal

    That was in reference to the sheet, not the paste. Presumably the same thickness rules don't apply there.

  • fyi on thermal tabs (Score:5, Informative)

    by v1 (525388) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:27AM (#40674235) Homepage Journal

    Answering several commenters above and adding some more information as well...

    1. Apple tried this out from about 1997 to 2002 in their G3 and G4 laptops and some of the desktops. They tried a variety of "thermal tabs". They worked ok. Sometimes they're quicker to put on, other times they take more time. Some were brittle. They should be available from a variety of sources at this point, not just Sony. They were also used on some of the G5's and mac pro CPUs. They tried quite a few variations over the years, and the most recent on the early mac pros were considered highly hazardous materials and we were advised to wear gloves when handling them and to not let them be exposed to air for any length of time. They may still be using them but the procs come attached to the heat sink so I don't have to handle them directly. All the products I lift heat sinks from have been using regular compound for the last several years. So I assume they figure the tabs are good for manufacturing time but not the best idea for field-repair. They may have been using 3M as a supplier, I don't know.

    2. They were more expensive than thermal compound but easier to store a bunch of them in a small box/envelope.

    3. I tried to reuse them and mostly failed. They tend to bond to either the heat sink or the die, or both, and get torn up pretty bad when you lift off the heat sink. Usually have to scrape the bits off both surfaces with a plastic spudger before using a new one. Makes taking things apart for test swapout or inspection a bit more of a hassle and a little more expensive.

    4. one advantage they had was no spillover. A few systems I've worked with wouldn't tolerate heat sink goop spilling too far over to the ballast resistors or caps mounted near the die on the package. For those you had to be very careful about how much compound you used so it wouldn't squish out and touch something it shouldn't and generate some capacitance that would cause wonky behavior from the cpu. These are idiot-proof that way for the most part. I've also been told about problems with getting an air bubble in with the compound and creating a pocket over the die with no compound on it - I've never had that happen to me personally but I've seen the effect a few times. This isn't possible with the tabs. I've also read cautions for not applying too much compound, as though if you put on too much it wouldn't squish out enough and would create too thick of a layer of compound between die and heat sink but I don't think that's likely to happen considering the viscosity of the compound and the torque of the heat sink.

    5. Occasionally we'd get tabs that were the exact size of the die, or a little undersize, and those caused problems getting them on right with full coverage. I also watched a tech forget to replace the new tab, with the expected results, so you may run into a few oops moments when changing your technique.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @03:03PM (#40677653)

    I've never been wronged by the hardware side of sony

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

    But I guess if you've never personally been harmed, it's all good.

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