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Next-Gen CPU Cooler Uses Bubbles

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 27 comments

Noise Limit Inc. said that its "next generation" CPU cooler appeared this week at the SEMI-THERM 21 trade show, revealing that CPUs don't really need fans to keep their cool, but actually prefer bubbles. We like bubbles too.

This past weekend, Tom's Hardware threw up a great article entitled "Big, Bad, Cooling Systems," sporting thirty-three images of the craziest cooling solutions we could uncover. The gallery showed just how creative PC enthusiasts can be, rigging up dozens of tubes to cool every component, or doing it the easy way by dumping everything in a fish tank and filling it up with mineral oil (sans the fish, of course). Granted one or two featured setups used bubbles as an effect (or so it seemed), Noise Limit's "next generation" Silentflux cooling system would have been ideal for this feature. Its setup is admittedly less-than-spectacular in a visual sense, however the idea behind its creation is unique to say the least: use bubbles to cool the CPU.

According to the company, the Silentflux system--dubbed as a passive pro "no fan required" high performance cooler--went on display this week at the SEMI-THERM 25 trade show held in San Jose, California.  However, in a press release distributed yesterday, Noise Limit said that its Silentflux system utilizes bubble pump technology, removing the cooling fan completely with the aid of a high efficiency condenser. An evaporator (boiling) chamber collects the heat generated by the CPU, thus causing gas bubbles that, in turn, create a pump effect. The heat thus moves through the closed loop tubing via a hot liquid into a highly efficient condenser/radiator (fin area). Gas is then condensed and returned to the evaporator chamber. Hopefully all those gas bubbles and hot liquids won't create an explosive effect, especially after eating a night's worth of spicy food.

Noise Limit said that the Silentflux design is still patent pending, and that end-users can accommodate the Silentflux for any situation, whether they want to capture heat from dual CPUs, or from a CPU and a GPU in a gaming rig. “Noise Limit’s cooling system products are intrinsically engineered to achieve a new low noise threshold, but the design also offers greater flexibility in footprint design for various computing-based applications including media centers, all-in-one PC, servers, and high-end gaming products,” said Bob Senior, executive vice president at Noise Limit.

Granted a boiling chamber planted within the PC seems a little risky--if not dangerous, Noise Limit assures consumers that the Silentflux system is extremely reliable, extremely predictable, and is insensitive to temperature, vibration, and shock. The company even claims that the system will not leak. When compared to heat pipes, the Silentflux provides up to 50 percent less thermal resistance because it is an ultra-low pressure-drop system; this allows for very low fan velocities at the radiator end of the system.

"In typical operation, the cooling action will be functioning but the product will seem quiet to the product user," the company said. "Bubble pump technology is not only efficient in capturing and transferring heat, it is silent, too. And it works to temperatures as low as -40C."

By using simple physics principles, Noise Limit has created a unique way to remove heat from the CPU without the need for noisy cooling fans. And because the Silentflux offers unlimited design options and scalability, this "next generation" cooling system may actually be the way to go for PC enthusiasts and PC gamers alike. The Silentflux is not only easy on the ears, but is 100 percent recyclable, uses low power, and is extremely cost-effective.

"The team has made great strides by lowering noise reduction in a solution that has great performance and high reliability," said AMD.

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  • 0 Hide
    IronRyan21 , March 18, 2009 5:05 PM
    Sounds too good to be true. Will we see this anytime soon to the average consumer?
  • 1 Hide
    hellwig , March 18, 2009 5:11 PM
    Thermo-dynamics was never my thing, but how do they get the compression back into liquid state to be efficient? You refridgerator works on much the same premise as this device, take a cooling agent, allow it to expand, taking in energy from the air inside your fridge, then expell that heat through a radiator on the back. The only problem is, your fridge needs a powered compressor to get the coolant back into a liquid phase.

    In theory, if your CPU ran hot enough, this thing would just shut-down, right?
  • 0 Hide
    scarpa , March 18, 2009 5:16 PM
    Yeah when can we buy such a cooling system?
  • Display all 27 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 18, 2009 5:31 PM
    Looks fairly promising, but I'm interested to know how competitive the pricing will be. If they put it at under $275 for a GPU & CPU solution it should be a great deal!
  • 1 Hide
    bigbluecheese , March 18, 2009 5:39 PM
    It appears that they're running some sort of liquid in a low pressure situation so that it doesn't take much energy to evaporate the liquid and then the environment doesn't have to take away too much energy to get the gas to re-condense. They may just be able to get away with it because they use a liquid with a small heat of vaporization. For that reason, I doubt the concerns of leaking because I'd bet that the liquid is a non-conducting hydrocarbon.

    I think you're right that if your CPU ran hot enough this thing wouldn't work as well. If your CPU transfers too much energy to the liquid, how is it going to condense and release all of its energy to the environment? Either there's a trade secret there or its a serious concern.
  • 1 Hide
    pharge , March 18, 2009 5:54 PM
    "your CPU ran hot enough this thing wouldn't work as well."

    It is easy... we just need to keep our room "refrigerated"...;)
  • 0 Hide
    hurbt , March 18, 2009 5:58 PM
    Phase change coolers are nothing new. It's an interesting solution in a PC, and if AMD is recommending them, they're probably not "too good to be true." Every cooling solution has limitations... you wouldn't OC your new i7 to 6ghz with just a fan and a heat sink...

    If I could slap one of these on my 4850, I would... damn it's loud at 60% fan speed!!!
  • 0 Hide
    LuxZg , March 18, 2009 6:46 PM
    Seems like an evolution of their previous CPU cooler. They've just made it work more like a closed-looped liquid cooling system this time, so you can cool several components with a single large radiator.

    Since they claim it's simple, I would also like them to follow up with the appropriate price. 250$ suggested is too much for me personaly. Good air cooler for CPU is 40$, good air cooler for VGA is another 40$ (with fans!).. so this thing should be priced at or below 80$. If it costs 250$ it has to provide temperatures that are much lower than those achieved by good high-end air coolers of today.

    So I'm just hoping for a 100$ price.. But it will need a manufacturer to make it real. So far they've failed with manufacturing and marketing their CPU variant, even though it was announced similary as this system.
  • 0 Hide
    warezme , March 18, 2009 7:43 PM
    4850 at 60% loud? Try two 295's at full scream..., wicked fast but loud as heck, fortunately thats with manual settings and surpisingly under auto mode those fans never kick up. The cards seem to run fine at 85C without spooling its own fans up? I still don't know what the threshold is for the fans to auto increase where I can hear them.
  • 0 Hide
    StupidRabbit , March 18, 2009 7:54 PM
    Quote:
    We like bubbles too.


    I bet you do :D ..
  • 1 Hide
    marraco , March 18, 2009 7:58 PM
    From a technical viewpoint, is so simple and elegant...

    I doubt they can protect it with a patent.

    Anybody can do one. The hard part is to get the right fluid.

    I bet the future is full of Do It Yourself kits to asembly your own one.

    It can be sold just as a set of tubes, and a little jar with the liquid.

    As the CPU get hotter, it will work better.

    It even can be enhanced with a fan, but, who is not tired of the fan noise?
  • 2 Hide
    Shadow703793 , March 18, 2009 11:23 PM
    So this is basically like a heatpipe? Btw, it's probably nor "bubbles" but rather very fine "vapor". Bubbles contain air(most gases are ineffective at carrying heat compared to water/other fluids like Alcohol in a closed system) and thus ineffective at carrying heat. Hence, why bubbles are bad in a water cooling set up.
  • 1 Hide
    cjl , March 19, 2009 12:30 AM
    hellwigThermo-dynamics was never my thing, but how do they get the compression back into liquid state to be efficient? You refridgerator works on much the same premise as this device, take a cooling agent, allow it to expand, taking in energy from the air inside your fridge, then expell that heat through a radiator on the back. The only problem is, your fridge needs a powered compressor to get the coolant back into a liquid phase.In theory, if your CPU ran hot enough, this thing would just shut-down, right?


    The reason your fridge needs a compressor is because it is cooling to below-ambient. The method would work with no compressor required at all to keep something above ambient, but just provide a high heat flow rate out of the system. That appears to be what was done here.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 19, 2009 3:25 AM
    The Silentflux Media cooler has been available for AM2 & LGA775 sockets for awhile now at Directron.com for $40 and $30, respectively.
  • 0 Hide
    russofris , March 19, 2009 4:14 AM
    As someone noted above, this is a typical phase change cooler that contains a liquid with a low boiling point enclosed in a low-pressure casing so that it's boils just above ambient (probably 120 deg Fahrenheit). They probably have a rough surface on the inside of the blocks to allow bubbles to form easily. They use a loop to allow the gas to escape without creating back pressure.


    The downsides: You probably cannot "form" (the tubes would be fairly rigid) and the blocks have to be beneath the radiator.
  • 0 Hide
    w4ffles , March 19, 2009 5:44 AM
    This seems a lot like Asetek's Vapochill Micro.
    http://www.asetek.com/content/view/413/203/
    The only difference I see is that they've somehow made the process more efficient, thus the lack of need for a fan.
  • 0 Hide
    jawshoeaw , March 19, 2009 6:53 AM
    Shadow703793So this is basically like a heatpipe? Btw, it's probably nor "bubbles" but rather very fine "vapor". Bubbles contain air(most gases are ineffective at carrying heat compared to water/other fluids like Alcohol in a closed system) and thus ineffective at carrying heat. Hence, why bubbles are bad in a water cooling set up.

    bubbles are result of boiling->a very good way to cool
  • 0 Hide
    Dmerc , March 19, 2009 10:36 AM
    How much energy is this thing going to use? The cost of electricity might be going up by about 80% in my area and I don't want to get poor from running a overclocked pc.
  • 0 Hide
    septagent , March 19, 2009 3:30 PM
    vegman84The Silentflux Media cooler has been available for AM2 & LGA775 sockets for awhile now at Directron.com for $40 and $30, respectively.


    That media cooler isn't the same product. I think there is a big improvement with the one they are talking about in this article.
  • 0 Hide
    bounty , March 19, 2009 6:44 PM
    Great, they can transfer heat to the radiator a little better... you still need to transfer that heat quietly to the air. I don't think we have a problem getting heat into the radiators, especially now with heatpipes. What we really need is a way to bring radiators down to ambient better, I think.
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