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Hardware Hacking Hardware

The Fanless Spinning Heatsink 380

An anonymous reader writes "There's a fundamental flaw with fan-and-heatsink cooling systems: no matter how hard the fan blows, a boundary layer of motionless, highly-insulating air remains on the heatsink. You can increase the size of the heatsink and you can blow more air, but ultimately the boundary layer prevents the system from being efficient. But what if you did away with the fan? What if the heatsink itself rotated? Well, believe it or not, rotating the heat exchanger obliterates the boundary layer, removes the need for a fan, and it's so efficient that it can operate at low and very quiet speeds. That's exactly what the Air Bearing Heat Exchanger, developed by Jeff Koplow of the Sandia National Laboratories, has developed. It's even intrinsically immune to the build up of dust and detritus!"
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The Fanless Spinning Heatsink

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  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:21AM (#36733492)
    I think a better description would be a heatsink that is a fan or probably more accurately an impeller but without the tube enclosure.
  • by Verdatum ( 1257828 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:35AM (#36733722)
    You sir, need a hug. It's a pretty good article.
  • Re:I'm curious... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:53AM (#36734040)

    Nope, the "connection" is a thin (1E-5m) air gap experiencing high shearing and thus providing very low thermal resistance. The gap's thermal resistance contributes very little (on the order of 10%) to the overall thermal resistance of the cooler. It is a truly revolutionary design, no shit here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:54AM (#36734056)

    It's only "rightly so" if the summary accurately summarized the article. It doesn't. He didn't read it he just read the summary and wanted to post fast for physics cred.

    And that's the saddest part of all. *sigh*

    Someone posted it above. The actual article says it doesn't get rid of the boundary layer just significantly reduces it. He calls BS that the boundary layer is eliminated but the article doesn't say that only the summary does.

  • by metalmaster ( 1005171 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:56AM (#36734100)
    I thought a long standing goal of PC manufacturers was to do away with moving parts. I dont think fans will go away anytime soon as long as they are cheap [newegg.com] to replace. From the comments hear I'd assume this heatsink spins on a platter essentially taking the place of the fan. What do you do when it fails? Can you replace it for less than $10?
  • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @11:33AM (#36734826)

    It sounds like it's still in the research phase, which means it's not a viable commercial product yet. All the things you describe would need to be solved in order for it to be commercially viable. But the concept is novel, and deserves credit for what it is.

    Whether this will ultimately end up being a replacement or a competitor in the current cooling systems market will be a matter of whether these problems can or need to ultimately be solved. Since this phase of the research deals only with the viability of the new design, I suspect it will be.

  • RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xtieburn ( 906792 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @12:02PM (#36735334)

    I know its said a lot and should be common knowledge but I think it pays to stress it more strongly on occasion. This seems like an ideal time, READ THE FUCKING ARTICLE.

    Several posts now, numerous mod points and dozens of follow ups all frankly making complete asses of themselves ironically complaining about how the IQ of /. has dropped while they make angry complaints and rants about the story that are fully addressed in the documentation.

    and if you think that the fact that the summary screwed up is still a good sign of /. intelligence drop then you really need to look right back in the archives because bad summaries have been around on /. and virtually everywhere else pretty much from the beginning. Unsurprisingly the people posting the stories dont have total knowledge of the often fairly complex material posted and they screw it up good and proper on occasion. Which is probably why you should be judging the posts on the documents they link to and not the quickly thrown together summary by an admitted layman. Anything else is ironically a really stupid thing to do.


    (and no this doesnt mean the documentation is flawless but make commentary on that, not the summary, it will raise that intelligence level a lot of you are so eager to whine about.)

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @01:03PM (#36736190) Homepage Journal

    immune to dust

    Let's just start with "NO" and go from there. Unless you've got a high grade low micron filter on the intake, air circulation is going to lead to dust collection. And then you have filters to replace. Neither solution has any business calling itself "immune" to the problem.

    The article reads like a used car salesman trying to sell you a car based on all the wonderful "win/win" features it has, trying to ply a "reality distortion field" as the popular saying goes.

    And unless it's using a sealed fluid bearing, that is going to get fouled eventually by dust too. That's what tends to take down cpu fans. Considering the comparatively low torque of such a system, it should come to a stop a lot sooner too.

    And I never did see any justification on this "boundary layer" theory, and as to why the lack of a fan magically makes it disappear.

BLISS is ignorance.