The Overclocker's Dream: Kryotech's Home of Cool Computing


While the most of us overclockers are looking for even larger fans and bigger heat sinks, while we are contemplating if peltier elements are worth the investment or if they're only hype, while we are struggling overclocking a Pentium II 266 to 337 MHz or more, a K6 233 to 262.5 MHz or a Pentium Pro to 233 MHz, Kryotech runs Alpha stations at 767 MHz, Pentium Pro systems at 266 MHz, K6 CPUs at 375 MHz and Pentium II CPUs (pssst, a secret!!) at 400 or even more MHz. Where ever the Kryotech staff is showing their power systems with lots of disbelieving or simply astonished people around these racing machines, the Kryotech guys are standing there smiling, calmly explaining how they achieved something so many people dream of. They must be feeling as Gottlieb Daimler did more than 100 years ago, when he showed the first ever car, driving through southern Germany.

I came across Kryotech the first time at the Microprocessor Forum 'affinity session'. Kryotech showed an Alpha based system running at the amazing speed of 767 MHz !!! Of course I had to be there, as one of the fathers of 'global overclocking'. At Comdex Kryotech teamed up with AMD and showed a K6 375 MHz system. The system Kryotech is using seems pretty simple, once you understand it. They are simply using the same cooling technique as we all do when trying to keep our Coke or beer cool ... in the refrigerator. How does a 'fridge' cool? It's taking advantage of the fact that phase change of a fluid to a gas is consuming a lot of energy, in this case simply thermal heat, and since gas needs a larger volume than fluid, you compress this gas back to fluid so that it can consume heat for turning into gas again. This explanation is not the most technical, but I hope you get the picture. After all I'm no fridge-technician, am I?

OK, so since this cooling technique is working like a fridge, it requires pretty much the same components. There has to be a compressor (as in a fridge, it's that thing that you can hear when it starts running after you left the door open too long) in the system case, there has to be an opening where the hot air comes out and then there's a special 'head' attached to the device that's meant to be cooled, Kryotech calls it 'CPU capsule'. In this capsule the environment friendly freon substitute is changing phase from liquid to gas, taking away the heat. This CPU capsule is connected to the compressor via two lines, one for the liquid to the capsule and one for the gas from the capsule.

This nice cooling technique cools the CPU down to -40 degrees Celsius and allows clock rates never accomplished before. The cooling unit, usually placed into the bottom third of a special tower case, needs an additional 120W of power, supplied by an additional power cord.

The cost of such an ultra power cooling device is nothing for the poor guy, it lies by $500, but it was never meant for the average guy, who just wants to run his Pentium 166 at 291, it was meant for 'the people that can't wait' as a spokesman of Kryotech stated. It allows the real ultra power user running his already high end chip at clock rates that might not be accomplished before a years term.

Kryotech promised me to get one of their first cooling devices once they will be launched officially and believe me, I can't wait to get my hands on one of these babies.

How Does Kryotech Avoid Water Condensation ?

Kryotech Spokesman: KryoTech has patents and trade secrets for preventing ice and condensation. Between the cold plate and the exterior of the chilled CPU capsule is a hermetically sealed layer of insulation with special moisture inhibitors (this is why the brass cold plate looks skinnier than the entire CPU capsule in the pictures I sent to you....the difference in thickness is our insulation layer). We also use spot-heaters with closed loop electronic controls

  1. to ensure that the "frost line" always stays inside our layer of insulation, far away from water molecules floating around in the ambient air, and
  2. to ensure that the rest of the computer innards stay above room temperature, so that condensation will not occur anywhere in the system. This is somewhat analogous to the heaters in the door seal of your home refrigerator (did you know you have these?).

After we start shipping production-level products, experimenters and hackers who are so inclined will be able to open up our chilled CPU capsule and get a more detailed view of how we do this. In the meantime, we are a small company and we would like to keep these details to ourselves so as not to encourage copy-catters (especially big, well capitalized ones).

Tom: I understand this copy-cat issue very well, hi copy catters, will you copy this article as well?

  • gdilord
    That was an interesting read. Brings back memories of growing up as a computer geek in the late nineties.

    Spelunking in archives can be quite fun :-)
  • remingtonh
    Looks like Kryotech is out of business. The website link leads to a landing page.

    I'm not sure this really made a lot of sense. All this for 75 more MHz. Seems like one might have been better off spending the money on faster hard drives, more ram, better graphics cards and such, or just saving the money for 6-8 mos. to get a CPU that, with conventional cooling, would would wipe the floor with a 375 Mhz. K6-2.