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Hardware Technology

Quiet Cooling With a Copper Foam Heatsink 171

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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  • Kickstarter warning (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @01:27PM (#47567745)

    This is not a real product. It's just being crowdfunded. The only evidence that it works is a claim by the creators that "the exterior surface temperature never rises above 50 C (122 F) in normal use", without specifying what "normal use" is.

    It might work and if so, great! I can't trust this article at this moment, however.

  • Old news. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @01:30PM (#47567783) Homepage

    Bought a no-moving-parts power supply back in... oh, I don't know, 2003 or something. Sold as "cooled by heatpipes", pretty much the same principle - silent, no moving parts, passively cooled, no fans, huge surface areas.

    They also did kits for the processor itself but I've also bought P2-era motherboards that were designed to be passively cooled too (same thing, huge heatsink, no fan).

    So this is certainly not "the first" in the PC world (unless we're talking about "the first" to use some particular technology that just about replicates what I bought over 10 years ago). Not even close. In fact, it's over a decade out. And going outside the PC world, passively cooled chips are pretty common - you have a tablet or smartphone without a huge stonking fan, no?

    The PSU is still working 10 years on if you'd like me to dig it out. I'm sure it wouldn't take much to butcher it to do the same job to the processor, especially if you can safely have it clock itself down to prevent heat being generated in the first place.

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @01:51PM (#47567971) Homepage

    A computer case that doubles as the heat-sink FTW!

    http://www.quietpc.com/tnn500a... [quietpc.com]

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @01:56PM (#47568037)

    It's using a Core i7-4785T, an "ultra-low power" processor (shown by the T suffix - S indicates a "low-power" part, and K indicating an overclockable part). This particular one is a 35W part running at only 2.2GHz, while the regular i7-4790 runs at 3.6GHz (and 84W)[citation] [wikipedia.org]. Turbo boost can bring that up to 3.2GHz on a single core (on the regular chip, 4.0GHz). So the CPU is not a regular desktop chip at all, let alone a "high-end" one.

    The Nvidia GeForce 760 is a bit of an interesting choice. It's not powerful enough to be called "high-end" (I would apply that label only to the 780 and 780 Ti of that series), but it doesn't fit with the ultra-low power CPU. If they were thermally constrained (as their CPU choice indicates), I would have expected to see the 750 Ti - not too much weaker (~30% [citation] [anandtech.com]), but with a far lower power draw (it's the most powerful card to be powered only by PCIe, no extra power connections needed). Seriously, the 760 is a 170W card, and the 750 Ti is a 60W card. Seeing how they handicapped the CPU to shave off 50W, I don't see their logic for not shaving 110W for a similar performance penalty.

    Because of their choice of CPU, I can't really support their claim of being a high-end desktop with passive cooling. They are much more powerful than most fanless PCs, but most fanless PCs are also designed for industrial use, not for regular office/home environment. So it's an improvement, but not a revolutionary one.

  • by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @02:05PM (#47568093)

    The tiles on the shuttle's belly were the complete opposite. The main tiles on the belly of the shuttle were roughly 10% silica fibers, 90% air. Think very low density styrofoam, except that it can be heated to glowing temperatures without losing its properties. This was actually the really cool demo that I saw. The person giving the demo heated it with a torch until it was glowing yellow/white, then picked it up with his bare finger tips. Because the thermal conductivity of it was so low, it could be handled (with care) with bare hands.

    For the OP, the point of the thermal protection system was precisely the opposite of being a heat sink. It's entire purpose was to insulate the shuttle against the heat that the belly was exposed to during re-entry. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of heating during re-entry was due to compressive heat (think diesel engines, boyles law and all that), Not friction. Basically the shuttle would compress the air in front of it, causing it to heat up to plasma type temperatures, which was then transferred to the body of the shuttle through convective heating. As such, the best way to deal with it was just to insulate yourself, and wait for the high temperatures to pass.

  • Re:Perfect (Score:5, Informative)

    by jiriw ( 444695 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @02:55PM (#47568557) Homepage

    Implicit question answered here [silentpowerpc.de]. For the tl;dr & tl;dt folk: Use a vacuum cleaner.

    Vor Staub braucht man keine Angst haben, denn durch den inneren Wärmepuffer kann Staub nicht bis ins innerste vordringen. Staub im äußeren Bereich lässt sich dank der Offenporigkeit leicht mit einem Staubsauger absaugen. Weil der SilentPower keinen Lüfter hat, wird Staub auch nicht wie bei normalen Computern angesaugt. Du wirst sehen, dass man ihn seltener entstauben muss als einen normalen Desktop-PC. Dennoch gilt das selbe wie bei allen PCs: Regelmäßiges Entstauben schont die Hardware.

  • Re:Perfect (Score:4, Informative)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @04:28PM (#47569443)

    No. A static charge will always attract neutral particles, due to the magic of induced dipoles. Positive, negative, alternating, it makes no difference.

  • Re:Perfect (Score:4, Informative)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2014 @05:51PM (#47570191) Homepage Journal

    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.

    The hardness of the structure can be many times lower than the hardness of the material when you're talking turning it into FOAM. Compare the hardness of steel wool and steel.

    If this is anything like I'm envisioning, you could probably take a 3" block of the stuff and step on it and crush it down to about 1/4-1/8". And unlike traditional material foam, this stuff isn't going to spring back.

    Even if it can survive the blast of air, it may just serve to drive the particles deeper into the block. A filter has to be thin or very porous to insure air pressure can drive most of the trapped materials out.

    I'm betting the best way to deal with dust/dirt in this case is to simply filter the air very well. Very fine dust should be removable with air, but you don't want anything at or above large dust particle size getting into that foam or you'll never get it out.

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