Skip to main content

Next-Gen GPUs Will Require More Robust Cooling Solutions

cooling components from Sun Max
(Image credit: Sun Max)

Taiwan's cooling component suppliers foresee excellent prospects for their wares for H2 2022, according to a report published by DigiTimes today. The semiconductor industry periodical says that next gen graphics cards are going to stimulate demand for high performance coolers. Higher performance parts with premium materials and engineering offer greater margins for suppliers, and this is why they're rubbing their hands.

Why We Will Need Better GPU Coolers

Both AMD and Nvidia are preparing some monstrous consumer GPU launches for H2 2022. In AMD's case, we have seen rumors that AMD's largest Navi 31 die will feature a whopping 12,288 streaming processors housed inside 48 WGPs (workgroup processors). This is over twice the number of streaming processors as RDNA 2's beefiest and best. AMD's new 5nm or 6nm GPUs will very likely require more power, so the new GPUs will have a huge concentration of processing power and energy in a very small chip.

Nvidia will face very similar issues to those outlined above. In our Nvidia Ada Lovelace technology roundup, we mention that the top-end 4nm AD102 GPU is expected to pack 60 billion transistors with up to 18,432 GPU cores, plus Tensor cores and RT cores. That will go into a very small area of likely 600 mm^2 or less, and third party GPUs may consume up to 600W when under load.

Auras Technology and Sun Max

Two cooling component suppliers provided some background knowledge to DigiTimes, with regards to their hopes for H2 2022 and the arrival of the Nvidia Ada Lovelace and AMD RDNA 3 architecture GPUs for the consumer market. They inhabit different niches of the cooling component market, so it is interesting to hear what both have to say.

First and probably most interestingly, a firm called Auras Technology says it has been designing vapor chambers for use in updated graphics card ranges. This is an interesting development as its current product pages only mention vapor chambers for laptop cooling purposes. Its PC GPU cooling solutions pages show only a traditional heatsink laced with heatpipes and attached to a large finned radiator. Other technical resource pages show that Auras has experience in coolers with heatpipes, vapor chambers, and combinations of the two technologies.

cooling components from Auras

Auras cooling components including some vapor chamber designs (Image credit: Auras)

We know vapor chamber use in laptops is growing, and there are even some used in mobiles. Asus is a recent 'convert' to using vapor chambers in its laptops, with both the Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 SE and ROG Flow X16 featuring this technology to help tame the powerful CPUs and GPUs used in these severely size-constrained portable gaming machines. Vapor chamber technology cooling has been used previously in desktop GPUs, but perhaps it is set to become much more commonplace.

Elsewhere in the DigiTimes report, cooling fan specialist Sun Max seems to be highly optimistic about the next generation of GPUs and says it is already enjoying record high revenues and profits. Sun Max says it has spent over US$2 million on fan R&D in the last year, and has filed hundreds of patents over the same period. As well as PC cooling fans, Sun Max produces custom solutions for smart fan, network device, server, automotive, and more. Sun Max's PC gaming related shipments brought in US$63.33 million last year and things are apparently going even better in 2022.

Neither AMD nor Nvidia have formally announced their next generation GPUs, but both are expected to arrive before the end of 2022, with Nvidia potentially arriving as early as July (Ada is expected some time in Q3, so between July and September). Given the timeframe, graphics card designs for the new GPUs should be nearly finalized, with orders and shipments of cooling components already procured. Will any of the new cards rock the boat in terms of design, or will we continue to see traditional dual and triple fan designs? We should find out soon enough.

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • Phaaze88
    I don't think more robust cooling solutions are needed, when the problem comes from a company 'inevitably' settling on throwing power efficiency out the window to keep up or stay on top of their competition.
    That just looks bad. The upper end Nvidia cards lost to AMD's in rasterization this gen - but the mindshare is just too stronk.
    The 12900K/KS is a special case for those who just plug-n-play, and bios/XTU are foreign lands to them. Other than that, it's completely manageable, while still competing with Ryzen 5000.
    I wish desktop cpus had a retail no IHS version...

    Laptops might be another story, but I'm specifically talking about the desktop space.


    Creating the problem and selling the solution will strike again...
    Reply
  • KananX
    Phaaze88 said:
    I don't think more robust cooling solutions are needed, when the problem comes from a company 'inevitably' settling on throwing power efficiency out the window to keep up or stay on top of their competition.
    That just looks bad. The upper end Nvidia cards lost to AMD's in rasterization this gen - but the mindshare is just too stronk.
    The 12900K/KS is a special case for those who just plug-n-play, and bios/XTU are foreign lands to them. Other than that, it's completely manageable, while still competing with Ryzen 5000.
    I wish desktop cpus had a retail no IHS version...

    Laptops might be another story, but I'm specifically talking about the desktop space.


    Creating the problem and selling the solution will strike again...
    I have already called out European Parliament and AMD and Nvidia in twitter and saying they should stop the insanity with always higher limits to win their bigger d*** wars and EU should limit the maximum a GPU can use to about 350W max, which is about the maximum which makes sense for a GPU without being terribly inefficient, but of course my twitter was ignored.

    I came here to say, inb4 graphics cards with 2 16pin cables and upper limit of 1200W which means, they can do whatever they want. Unless there is a limit by government capitalism will go rampant, and also, people will do whatever they want, I mean, they’re being encouraged by Intel, Nvidia and AMD to do so, so a lot of people will think, why not, unless they have issues with their energy costs at the end of the month. It’s especially ridiculous if you think about the awful prices we now have in Europe. Hopefully people will be smarter than the manufacturers, but my hope is slim.

    It’s 2022 not 1995 btw, environmental problems are a thing too. A thing not to be ignored anymore. Inefficient GPUs aren’t high tech, they’re just a monstrosity.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    Phaaze88 said:
    I don't think more robust cooling solutions are needed, when the problem comes from a company 'inevitably' settling on throwing power efficiency out the window to keep up or stay on top of their competition.
    Current rumors for the 4090 predict about twice the performance of a 3090 while using 600W's. That's a 100% increase in performance while using 70% more power. That is an increase in efficiency. People need to stop using power usage and efficiency interchangeably. They are not synonyms.
    Reply
  • KananX
    spongiemaster said:
    Current rumors for the 4090 predict about twice the performance of a 3090 while using 600W's. That's a 100% increase in performance while using 70% more power. That is an increase in efficiency. People need to stop using power usage and efficiency interchangeably. They are not synonyms.
    That’s for the base model, and then people will 90% buy the custom models which will use more power than that, just wait for it, which leads to terrible inefficiency just like with the 3090 Ti and 3090, lol, whole of GA102 is just inefficient cards.

    And then you’re comparing your “efficiency metrics” against a inefficient card, I think your whole point is flawed in the first place.
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    spongiemaster said:
    Current rumors for the 4090 predict about twice the performance of a 3090 while using 600W's. That's a 100% increase in performance while using 70% more power. That is an increase in efficiency. People need to stop using power usage and efficiency interchangeably. They are not synonyms.
    Up to 600w from just this part alone - screw that.
    Deliver that kind of performance while using around half to maybe 3/4ths of it.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    I live in a state that has "Summer", so I have no interest whatsoever in buying a GPU that consumes over 200 Watts. My GTX 1080 was already an intolerably hot space heater, thanks for asking.

    If power and price are increasing near linearly with performance, then it's not a "next generation". That's not an advancement of technology. It's just more of the current generation. We used to have a word for a GPU that provides about twice the performance while consuming about twice the power for twice the price: SLI.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    The only way to solve this problem is to have a cultural shift in PC enthusiast circles. But good luck trying to tell the random person who gets off to having a million FPS that they need to tone it down. Same goes for the manufacturers.

    At one point I wanted to see how much effiicency I could get out my setup, so I've got three profiles in my MSI Afterburner for my 2070 Super:
    Voltage capped to ~0.925V, with a frequency ceiling of 1950MHz
    Voltage capped to ~0.8V, with a frequency ceiling of 1800MHz
    Voltage capped to ~0.65V, with a frequency ceiling of 1650MHzI usually stick with the second profile because for the most part, I can achieve about 65-70% TBP utilization and get within 95% performance. If I go down to the third profile, I can easily get down to 50% TBP.

    The funny thing is too is I noticed in some games that performance doesn't go up, but the card will happily go up to the limits. In one game, I noticed I got a 0% performance improvement at 100% TBP compared to dropping the power limit down to 75% TBP. In another game, similar thing, only it was between the two lower Afterburner profiles.

    And I relayed this point a lot but I found a similar thing happened with my CPU, a 5600X, while doing a Handbrake run. If I let the CPU run at base clock, it chewed about 60% of the power than if I let it run at full bore, and it only lost about 15-20% performance. Although when running games, it normally doesn't consume anywhere near its PPT limit. Plus I undervolted it.

    So as a result of all this, my computer would've normally sat at 300+W while gaming. It now averages around 200-220W and it still handily meets or exceeds performance requirements.
    Reply
  • KananX
    hotaru.hino said:
    The only way to solve this problem is to have a cultural shift in PC enthusiast circles.
    Not really, EU or California state could limit it, things like this have already happened in California with fully sold PCs.

    And I generally see many enthusiasts not being friendly towards extreme power usage, this has various reasons, among them, electric bill, heat and environmental reasons. Smart enthusiasts are undervolters.
    Reply
  • spentshells
    This has gotten out of control! It was mentioned above, there is a up to a potential 100% performance increase (never) with 70% more power.

    These two companies are out of control. AMD pushes clock speed and NVIDIA pushes resources. Each are jamming more power to eek out more performance.

    There was an article stating the 3090ti when limited to 300 watts it was still potent...
    Dropping power is an issue for amd, but when amd pushes clocks and pushes past nv they have respond.
    Reply
  • spentshells
    KananX said:
    Not really, EU or California state could limit it, things like this have already happened in California with fully sold PCs.

    And I generally see many enthusiasts not being friendly towards extreme power usage, this has various reasons, among them, electric bill, heat and environmental reasons. Smart enthusiasts are undervolters.
    LoL there needs to be a law preventing enthusiast level performance out of the box.


    Brutal
    Reply