Take what you know about heatsink cooling and turn it on its head – what about making the actual cooler cool itself without needing a fan to do it for you? That’s something that’s been shown off at CES 2015 by CoolChip in partnership with Cooler Master. Both companies are working together to bring Kinetic Coolers to the PC market for consumers and its the first time this will be available to consumers.
The design of the Kinetic Cooler is very similar to the same type of heatsink cooling technology developed by Sandia, a US-based company that designed similar technology for government and enterprise applications. Instead of using a fan for air cooling, the heatsink is split into two parts. One is a grooved heatsink base that sits on top of your processor just like other heatsinks, with a DC motor sitting in the middle with a spindle sticking upwards. The other part is a rotating disc of fins that attach to the base using a compression spring to keep it lifted up in the air on the spindly, allowing it to work in almost every orientation you can think of.
The two parts are separated through the spring by half a millimeter, so it’s a very precise fit. Once the spinning top gets up to a high enough speed, it draws in air under itself and creates a bed of air to float on, keeping the two halves apart by a single millimeter. Because the heatsink surface is ribbed, more air can get in under the spinning top. Not only is the gap slim enough to allow for heat transfer through induction, the air bed isn’t stagnant either – it is constantly moving from the center of the heatsink to the outer edge, drawing heat all along the spinning top’s surface underneath, before being sucked back into the center to start the cycle all over again.
The other part of the equation is the empty space in the middle of the spinning top. This creates a vortex of air that is sucked down and distributed through the fins, cooling both its center and outer edges. One of the issues with air cooling is that there’s a dead spot in the middle of the heatsink and manufacturers try to work around that by running heatpipes all over the show to distribute heat evenly.
With this type of cooling, CoolChip says there’s no limit to what they can actually cool or how big they can make the heatsink. Part of that is because kinetic cooling transfers up to 30x more heat per fin at a lower speed than air-cooled units. CoolChip’s prototypes run at 2000rpm with a noise level of about 20dba – below the level of most ambient noise and about on par with really quiet fans.
Neither CoolChip nor Cooler Master have announced a time frame for launch or a price, just that it will be coming sometime in 2015 (with a launch after Computex 2015 a very likely one). Check out Sandia’s video about their coolers below and keep your eyes peeled for coolers like these in the coming months. It may be worth your while and beneficial to your mission of ridding the world of dust bunnies to get one.