As a product category, CPU cooling hardware tends to offer few worthwhile developments, but a new heat sink concept from Sandia National Laboratories seems to offer tremendous promise for computers, as well as cooling appliances. Designed by researcher Jeffrey Koplow, the new "Sandia Cooler" does away with a separate fan component, and instead relies on the heat sink itself to disperse heated air.
If you're familiar with traditional CPU heat sink designs, they usually feature a metal heat sink and a fan working in concert to siphon off the heat generated by CPU, graphics chips, and other computer parts that draw, and therefore emit, energy. The problem with that design is what's called the boundary layer of air that hugs the heat sink. That boundary layer retains heat, which the fan is then supposed to disperse. Because of the power necessary to drive the fan, as well as the fan's proximity to the boundary layer, that design is inefficient. The Sandia Cooler eliminates the fan, replacing it with a finned heat sink that can disperse the boundary layer far more efficiently since the two are in closer contact.… Read more