Electronic Design

Cooler Chills Coppermine CPUs To Gigahertz Speeds

Steady increases in microprocessor performance are pushing CPU power dissipation to unprecedented levels. With clock speeds rising into the gigahertz range, the processor's high power dissipation and power density present serious thermal-management challenges. Such difficulties test the limits of conventional cooling solutions. For CPUs aimed at the desktop market, it's not merely a matter of getting the heat out of the processor. The cooling design must also meet stringent size, weight, noise, and cost criteria.

Addressing this challenging set of requirements is the ArctiCooler, a novel fan-and-heatsink assembly from Agilent Technologies, Fort Collins, Colo. The Model CA is the first member of the ArctiCooler product line as well as the company's first entry into the processor cooler market. This device is designed to cool Intel's Pentium III Coppermine processors. It allows such CPUs to run at up to 1.4 GHz, should the processor be pushed to that speed. Consequently, the Model CA should be able to satisfy Coppermine's cooling needs throughout the chip's market life.

According to the vendor, the Model CA is also the quietest and smallest cooling solution for processors operating at a gigahertz or more. The ArctiCooler consists of a dual ball-bearing fan, integrated heatsink, clip, and thermal interface material.

Performance depends on three distinctive features. One is a solid conical base that provides efficient heat transfer from the chip to the heatsink fins. At the same time, this platform speeds airflow through the heatsink. Another attribute of this product is that it maintains a two-pass heat exchange. Air is pulled in through the fins at the top of the heatsink and then pushed out through the fins at the bottom. In addition, the slanting of the fins produces laminar (nonturbulent) airflow that aids heat transfer and minimizes fan noise.

Operation is specified for fan voltages of 6 to 13.8 V for fan speeds up to 4000 rpm. At 6 V, junction-to-air thermal resistance is 0.85°C/Ω. This value drops to 0.62°C/Ω at 12 V. Meanwhile, at these respective fan voltages, sound pressure levels are 22.48 and 32.94 dBA as measured at a distance of 1.0 m. The unit is rated for greater than 50,000 hours of continuous use.

The ArticCooler Model CA measures 35 mm high by 64 mm in diameter and weighs 162 g (including mounting clip and thermal interface material). Available now, the device is priced at approximately $7 in production quantities.

Agilent Technologies, 4380 S. Country Rd. 9, MS 82, Fort Collins, CO 80525; Technical Services (800) 235-0312; email: [email protected]; Internet: www.arcticooler.com.

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