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Hardware Technology

Quiet Cooling With a Copper Foam Heatsink 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the doubles-as-a-dish-scraper dept.
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.
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Quiet Cooling With a Copper Foam Heatsink

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  • So this is a... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @12:21PM (#47567679)

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

  • Perfect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sammyo (166904) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @12:24PM (#47567711) Journal

    ... for a dust free room!

  • I am skeptical (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @12:41PM (#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.
  • Efficient? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve (701917) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @12:44PM (#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:Perfect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ravaldy (2621787) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @01:10PM (#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:Old news. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @01:15PM (#47568193) Homepage

    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."

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @01:47PM (#47568467) Journal
    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.
  • Aerogel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rudojob (1754140) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @02:10PM (#47568695)
    Somewhat surprising. This reminded me of a metal aerogel and aerogels are good insulators http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]
  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @05:21PM (#47570443) Homepage Journal

    "without some kind of protection cage this seems kind of a bad idea"

    Good thing you're not en engineer and design person, then.

    Guess what typically surround metal heat sinks?

    Protection cages, like computer cases, amplifier cases, etc.

    What're you even doing on here if you can't think of something like that?

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