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Sparkle Says DLC Heatsinks Help Overclocking

By , Tuan Nguyen - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 11 comments

Sparkle Computer Co. this week announced a technology for cooling its video cards called Diamond-like-Carbon (DLC) coating. Stated as a new process to help dissipate heat from heatsinks, Sparkle sets sights on overclockers.

The new coating uses what Sparkle refers to as diamonds sputtering technology, and Sparkle claims that the DLC coating increases the rate at which heat is transferred from the source and dissipated away through the heatsink fins. Sparkle is claiming that its DLC coating can lower temperatures by up to 5 degrees Celsius.

Giving a nod to the molecular structure of carbon, Sparkle says that heatsinks coated with DLC will be able to draw away heat from GPU cores significantly faster than direct copper contacts. A DLC coated heatsink also allows fins to transfer heat from metal to air--essentially, the entire heatsink is coated with DLC.

Sparkle also mentions that its DLC coating is able to achieve high thermal transfer rates by acting as a barrier between metal to air contact. Because it's chemically inert, DLC helps prevent corrosion due to oxidation, which reduces thermal conductance. While we think that a DLC coating can help to protect copper-based heatsinks, aluminum heatsinks aren't susceptible to rust and most heatsinks are machined from aluminum.

Typically, DLC has several properties, including:

  • Low friction
  • Hard but flexible/Wear resistant
  • Chemically inert
  • Atomically dense
  • Bio-compatible and anti-thrombogenic

DLC  is often used to coat bearings and engine parts to prevent heat build-up. However, heat build-up is avoided by reducing the friction between the bearing and the housing, and preventing heat from transferring into the bearing. Judging from Sparkle's measurements, it's unclear whether temperature readings were performed on the heatsink or on the GPU die. The supplied chart is also visually skewed, as the graph supplied by Sparkle shows a 50-percent reduction but really only measuring a decrease of roughly 5-percent in temperature from 88C to 83C.

Since DLC prevents heat from entering an object, we're curious to find out from Sparkle if its prototype DLC heatsink actually prevented heat from transferring from the GPU to the heatsink, therefore producing a cooler heatsink. We contacted Sparkle to inquire but have yet to receive a response.

Sparkle has yet to mention which products will use DLC coatings and when consumers can expect to see them on store shelves. We'll follow up with Sparkle on this one.

Quoting from the Sparkle press release:

Now with more and more advanced relative technologies, the performance of video cards is getting stronger and stronger, there will be more heat generated by video cards, which significantly impairs the life expectancy of GPU and video memory chips on video cards. Video card companies have a lot of programs come and go to solve the problem of heat dissipation. The most commonly seen in general is the use of fans with cooling fins to do additional cooling. in the early days, the cooling job can be done simply with a fan or cooling fins, but in today's graphics cards with more intense heat than before, the cooling job must be done on the technologies not the same as before, not just rely on the fan and cooling fins. Video card companies must go to find some relatively new method to solve the problem of heat dissipation.

With a strong R&D team, SPARKLE introduced Diamonds Sputtering technology, which plate a Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) membrane on the surface of video cards cooling fins to realize the cooling effects of DLC. Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) membrane can help to quickly transfer the heat from GPU and video memory chips to the cooling fins. SPARKLE R&D team found in the study that Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) which gradually been found in the past few years has many high-natures, such as high optical penetrating, high-chemical corrosion-resistant, excellent friction properties and good compatibility. In addition, Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) also has a high heat conduction. General heatsink is relies on the  electronics movement within the metal (such as copper)  to do heat conduction. The diamonds do heat dissipation four times faster than copper, it relies on the phonons which is produced by the crystal lattice vibration, to bring heat to lower temperature places. Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) can achieve both functions at the same time, that is, transferring heat to lower temperature places with both graphite metal bond and diamond insulation bond (the covalent bond) . Apart from this,  Diamond-like Carbon (DLC)  can transfer carbon surface heat (atomic vibrations) into the infrared radiation of electromagnetic waves in bold (Black Body Radiation) , directly to the air molecules.

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  • 0 Hide
    chris13th , February 17, 2009 6:21 PM
    5 degrees C, huh? Nothing a little fan tweak and some AS5 can't do.
  • 0 Hide
    scryer_360 , February 17, 2009 6:35 PM
    The thing is, its 5 degrees Celcius by itself. It'd be even more with some fan tweaking and Artic Cooling MX-2.

    Its only a good thing for this.
  • 3 Hide
    Zenthar , February 17, 2009 6:44 PM
    Yeah, but what if you can get an additional 5C after you tweaked you fan and applied AS5? It has long been known that diamond has 2.35-6.10 time the thermal conductivity of copper (and even better than silver). You put Arctic Silver on your CPU ... why not Actic Diamond :p 
  • Display all 11 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    sacre , February 17, 2009 7:30 PM
    Move to the north, hook up a water system and put the Radiator outside.. there, your gpu/cpu/mb will sit at 5 celcius all the time.. or it won't.. i unno
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 17, 2009 7:38 PM
    Aluminum still oxidizes (rust is a synonym). It looses its shininess in the case of Aluminium. Of course different alloys will be a little different.
  • 0 Hide
    grieve , February 17, 2009 8:36 PM
    sacreMove to the north, hook up a water system and put the Radiator outside.. there, your gpu/cpu/mb will sit at 5 celcius all the time.. or it won't.. i unno

    If you did this @ my house the water would freeze... I guess you could run Antifreeze in there.
    If I had my machine turned off and went to work… when I come home my CPU would be like -20C @ bootup, condensation might be a problem when the processor gets warm.
  • 0 Hide
    sacre , February 18, 2009 12:35 AM
    grieveIf you did this @ my house the water would freeze... I guess you could run Antifreeze in there. If I had my machine turned off and went to work… when I come home my CPU would be like -20C @ bootup, condensation might be a problem when the processor gets warm.

    Indeed Condensation would be quite an issue. I use anti-freeze in my WC system, gives her a nice glow, but I do not dare put that radiator outside for obvious reasons.
  • 0 Hide
    mrubermonkey , February 18, 2009 1:54 AM
    What is the price premium going to be for this stuff?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 18, 2009 2:06 AM
    rust is the corrosion product of iron,not of copper or aluminum.
    Aluminum does corrode, and the corrosion layer makes aluminum much stronger.
    In fact, near to all visible aluminum is corroded aluminum.
    One can see naked aluminum when one damages an aluminum bar for instance. It will be lighter,and shines better.
    A couple of days will it need to look dull again like the aluminum we know. (ie to be corroded)

    apart from that, the laser treated carbon really is good for this, as well as in solar panels!
  • 1 Hide
    brendano257 , February 19, 2009 11:28 AM
    88C.....isn't that at a point where you should be looking into water cooling, or any other better cooling option anyway. Dropping 5C from 88C is like dropping 1/2C at a temperature of around 50C, I don't think this has much application, especially if that's the heatsink temp, not the die temperature.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , February 19, 2009 1:17 PM
    agree with the guy above.