Solution to a burning issue

09 July 2008

Heat generation has always been an issue for designers, especially as high-power chips are increasingly crammed into smaller spaces.

Cooling measures such as air-cooling and heatsinks can be efficient on a large scale, but often prove to be inept for smaller devices; especially when chips are stacked vertically.

In a bid to overcome this, researchers at IBM are channelling water between chips that are sandwiched together. The pipes are 50µm wide and sealed to prevent leaks and electrical shorts.

IBM’s water-cooled prototype has 100µm high cooling layers between the die layers of the processor and these layers are packed with vertical interconnects between the two dies, at a density of 10,000 interconnects per square centimetre.

As it is an efficient medium of absorbing heat, water has previously been used as a cooling method in industrial computers, but it has not yet been implemented on a commercial scale. Despite these recent advances, IBM believes that the tiny pipes are still five years away from production.

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