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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Liquid Cooling for Smart Phones

Liquid Cooling plate for Smart Phone. It is about four inches thick by two inches wide by one millimeter thick. 50 degrees Celsius (the top of the scale and the bright spot in the picture) is about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It's not solid, it's full of tiny tunnels filled with liquid and gas.
If whatever kind of machine your have is running so hot that you need to take steps to keep it cool, it just means your machine is not very efficient, energy wise. Automobile engines, for instance, in spite of all the recent advances in fuel economy, are still only able to covert about one third of the energy available in a gallon of gasoline into useful motion. The rest of it gets turned into heat. About half of that waste heat gets sent out the exhaust pipe. The rest is why you have a radiator, water pump, hoses and all the bits that go with them. And anti-freeze, don't forget the antifreeze.
    Microprocessors are amazing devices. They consume electricity and turn it into smart. And heat. If your processor isn't very complex, say it has only a million gates, and is only running at one billion cycles a second, the amount of heat it generates might make it a little warm, but it's not going to get hot. Take a more complex processor, one with, say, a zillion gates and run it at several gigahertz, and it's going to get hot, maybe even hot enough to make trouble.
     Chip manufacturers have been able to partially mitigate this by reducing the size of the gates (which means you don't need as much electricity to trigger them) and decreasing the operating voltage (same thing). But the number of gates is going up much faster than these techniques can handle, so improved cooling is what we need, and liquid cooling fits the bill.
Dustbury got me started with a post about liquid cooling for smart phones. In looking around, I uncovered this little bit on ZDNET:
. . . the Samsung Galaxy S7 isn't the first smartphone to feature liquid cooling. Microsoft's Lumia 950 and Lumia 950xl both use liquid cooling. Sony's use of the technology goes further back, to the Xperia X2, which was released in March of 2014.
Why use liquid cooling? It's probably being used for a number of reasons. First, Qualcomm had problems with the Snapdragon 810 overheating, a problem that resulted in Samsung passing up on the chip for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

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