The cooler in all its glory.
Intel has created a self-contained watercooling unit that will enable the latest Pentium Extreme Edition chips to hit 5GHz with ease.
The cooler has come out of Intel's engineering department, which is staffed with a bunch of enthusiasts who have been trying to push the envelope at Intel to try and get the firm to move away from its 'overclocking is bad, mmmkay'
The team, led by thermal mechanical engineer Gavin Stanley, spent an awful lot of time looking at current watercooling kits and systems on the market. They all shared several flaws, he told us: that they were complex to assemble, had a short life, consisted of too many different parts and used flimsy tubing.
The goal of his team, he laid out, was to come up with a more robust, reliable and efficient way of watercooling the processor.
The answer is this: Intel's Advanced Liquid Cooling prototype. It consists of a block unit which attaches to the processor. This contains the copper core which makes contact with the CPU, as well as a centrifugal pump which uses a DC brushless motor. This pumps the water up through solid metal tubing to a more traditional radiator, cooled by a 120mm fan. The integration of the cold plate improves thermal performance. The main body of the unit is made of injection-moulded plastic.
Intel's R&D labs have the most outrageous equipment for measurements and designing, meaning that this has been designed to last for more than three years without leaking, failing or requiring a top-up of coolant.
Because of the unique elements of the design, such as the centrifugal pump, solid tubing, precise engineering etc, it is ludicrously powerful. We saw a unit up and running, cooling a 3.8GHz Extreme Edition chip to 5.01GHz (with the RAM and FSB overclocked). The temperature on the processor was 62 celcius, well within operating parameters.
The unit will fit ATX and BTX boards. Intel is currently looking to work with a technology partner to developer commercial coolers around this design. Because Intel designed it to be assembled from commonly made parts, final retail coolers are expected to cost less than $50!
We are looking to get our hands on one in a couple of weeks. This looks like it could be the most insane cooler ever created, putting extreme overclocking in the hands of the vast majority of hardware enthusiasts. Watercooling has been done before, but it appears that it takes a company with the expertise and resources that Intel has to really push it to the next level.
Could this get you excited about Intel again? Let us know what you think over in the forums.