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IBM Files Patent For Power Delivery via Heat Sink

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

IBM envisions that future processors will be powered not only through single-surface power connectors, but through multiple interfaces, especially via grooves etched into the heat sink that sits on top of a CPU.

The motivation of this move is based on the fact that an increased number of CMOS transistors in 3D stacking will create an environment in which there will not be enough C4s even for single-die processors with single-surface power delivery.

IBM submitted a patent application that describes an integrated power architecture and distribution between a processor layer that is "coupled to a signaling and input/output (I/O) layer via a first set of coupling devices and a heat sink coupled to the processor layer via a second set of coupling devices."

The company stressed that this specific application only relates to power delivery, but there was the notion that this approach could also be used as a future data path as the described C4 layer "provides power to high-speed signaling" and the "I/O layer provides connectivity for signaling between [the] high-performance high-power processor layer [and] I/O layer in a reverse fashion similar to the […] description for power delivery from one layer to another layer."

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  • 2 Hide
    illfindu , May 10, 2012 3:29 PM
    So clearly IBM is so much smarter then me its crazy but does any one else think its kinda a silly idea i mean electricity running through metal makes head and heat sinks are suppose to expel heat from the cpu heat. Im sure they can make it work but seems like a odd idea
  • -2 Hide
    tongouch , May 10, 2012 3:38 PM
    Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and

    believe in, and it will come naturally.
  • 3 Hide
    syrious1 , May 10, 2012 3:43 PM
    Quote:
    So clearly IBM is so much smarter then me its crazy but does any one else think its kinda a silly idea i mean electricity running through metal makes head and heat sinks are suppose to expel heat from the cpu heat. Im sure they can make it work but seems like a odd idea


    I was thinking the same thing. doesn't this go against the purpose of a heatsink, which is to expell heat not conduct it into channels
  • 8 Hide
    InvalidError , May 10, 2012 4:28 PM
    illfinduSo clearly IBM is so much smarter then me its crazy but does any one else think its kinda a silly idea i mean electricity running through metal makes head and heat sinks are suppose to expel heat from the cpu heat. Im sure they can make it work but seems like a odd idea

    Using the heatsink to provide DC ground makes perfect sense since the heatsink has a whole lot more metal and hence lower electrical resistivity and I2R losses than fine traces on the CPU die, solder balls, substrate, socket pins and PCB traces which could significantly reduce DC power losses there. This would make it possible to eliminate ground pins used mainly to provide DC ground but some ground pins would still be required for AC components that still require a low-impedance path with minimal loop surface area with power/IO traces to keep EMI and AC ripple on supply rails within tolerances.

    Going beyond that to squeeze IO interfaces between heatsink fins/CPU however seems a little extreme and very inconvenient since it would require the use of complex heat-spreaders or sticking the CPU between a top and bottom substrate which would be problematic for heat flow. Integrating signal traces in grooves under the heatsink would require precision alignment with the CPU, which may be a little too much for DIY, it would also make usage of thermal paste a lot trickier.

    So, I doubt using the heatsink as a signal carrier beyond complementary DC ground would be practical.
  • 3 Hide
    digiex , May 10, 2012 5:02 PM
    This will be good for embedded processors where the heat sink is permanently in place.

    For removable heat sinks, a precise aligner is needed.
  • 5 Hide
    Netherscourge , May 10, 2012 5:03 PM
    Not very practical in a typical DESKTOP environment.

    In a MOBILE/TABLET/LAPTOP/SMARTPHONE environment, where circuit board real estate is scarce, it's VERY practical.

    Using a Heatsink as a conduit for the purpose of space-saving is quite genius to be honest. In fact, I'd go ahead and patent it's use as a data pathway also - because the smaller these devices get, the more creative/alternate routes become important.
  • -4 Hide
    madooo12 , May 10, 2012 5:40 PM
    a heatsink is hot, it has a much higher resistance, so it would conduct electricity worse and generate less heat, maybe I'm missing something here
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 10, 2012 5:44 PM
    They should harness the energy from the heat output of today's CPUs and GPUs and power the rest of the system with it.
  • 0 Hide
    TheBigTroll , May 10, 2012 5:52 PM
    weird but cool
  • 1 Hide
    madooo12 , May 10, 2012 5:56 PM
    madooo12... generate less heat...

    sorry I meant more
  • 0 Hide
    tntom , May 10, 2012 6:14 PM
    This hardly seems patentable especially since this has been done before. It is just a basic Conduit. Many amplifiers have routed wires through heatsinks. The manufacturing technology to do this on the nano scale might be patentable though.
  • -5 Hide
    dgingeri , May 10, 2012 6:19 PM
    IBM proves their incompetence to the world yet again.

    What kind of stupid idea is this, and what were they smoking to make them think this was a good idea?
  • 2 Hide
    ProDigit10 , May 10, 2012 6:43 PM
    touch the fan, and be electrocuted!
  • 2 Hide
    ProDigit10 , May 10, 2012 6:45 PM
    makes no sense, once you touch the fan you'll change cpu voltage. Static electricity could possibly knock out the cpu!
    No thank you!
    I much rather prefer the old ways.
  • 0 Hide
    shafe88 , May 10, 2012 7:35 PM
    If IBM is going to bring this to the market, they better hope Intel brings back the Prescott core.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 10, 2012 7:47 PM
    The thermoelectric effect is the direct conversion of temperature differences to electric voltage and vice-versa. A thermoelectric device creates a voltage when there is a different temperature on each side. Conversely, when a voltage is applied to it, it creates a temperature difference. At the atomic scale, an applied temperature gradient causes charge carriers in the material to diffuse from the hot side to the cold side, similar to a classical gas that expands when heated; hence inducing a thermal current.

    This effect can be used to generate electricity, measure temperature or change the temperature of objects. Because the direction of heating and cooling is determined by the polarity of the applied voltage, thermoelectric devices are efficient temperature controllers.

    Heatsinks COULD BE USED to generate electricity and be used for cooling!
  • 1 Hide
    wiyosaya , May 10, 2012 8:11 PM
    Hmmm...peltier devices have been available for some time. I am almost willing to bet that someone could successfully challenge this patent. To me, this patent seems obvious and nothing new.
  • 0 Hide
    A Bad Day , May 10, 2012 9:05 PM
    greghomeSo.........we're getting porcupine inspired CPUs in the future because power will be delivered on both surfaces of the CPU die ? ......cool.....


    The only thing that's missing is data/power connections through the sides. Then it's a true porcupine stack of dies.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 10, 2012 9:32 PM
    I know thermoelectric power generation is terribly inefficient, but it seems like it could be so useful to return 10% of the energy lost due to heat back into the system.
  • -1 Hide
    dgingeri , May 10, 2012 11:00 PM
    shafe88If IBM is going to bring this to the market, they better hope Intel brings back the Prescott core.


    Have you seen the power/heat numbers for the new Power7 chips? I think they resurrected the Prescott and gave it a new instruction set.

    IBM:
    Incompetent
    Builders of
    Malfunctions
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