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NEC announces new phase-change cooler

NEC announces new phase-change cooler

The new technology - based around earlier NEC products - promises some impressive efficiency gains.

NEC has released preliminary details on a new method for cooling processors which it claims offers massively improved efficiency over existing systems.

According to coverage over on CrunchGear, the company has developed a new cooling system based around chlorofluorocarbon replacements which boil at 50 degrees - changing into a vapour which is moved to a heat exchanger unit to be turned back into a liquid once more.

While phase-change cooling systems aren't new, NEC's latest creation boasts some impressive claims: according to the company, the new cooling system uses 60 percent less energy than a watercooling system - and 80 percent less than a high-end air-cooling system. Due to its increased efficiency, the system runs quieter as well, with the fan running at a slower pace than in a traditional air-cooling system.

Perhaps most importantly for future adoption of the technology, NEC has price on its side too: the company claims that systems based around the CFC-replacement technology could work out up to 70 percent cheaper to produce than equivalent watercooling systems.

While the company isn't aiming the first generation of its technology at the consumer level - instead looking to use it internally before offering it to data centres as a way of cutting their energy costs - it could represent a glimpse of the future of cooling.

Do you think that NEC's creation shows promise, or will it all depend on actual figures from independent tests? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

45 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
memeroot 3rd May 2010, 09:39 Quote
sounds great, sounds far off
[USRF]Obiwan 3rd May 2010, 09:49 Quote
interesting indeed! Shame the included pic is a old nec cooling system...
Gareth Halfacree 3rd May 2010, 09:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
interesting indeed! Shame the included pic is a old nec cooling system...
Aye - NEC hasn't released any images of the new system yet.
rickysio 3rd May 2010, 09:57 Quote
The only thing I can say is

REEEALLY?
confusis 3rd May 2010, 10:00 Quote
once again NEC excels. If it's cheap i'm buying two!
Teknokid 3rd May 2010, 10:07 Quote
80% less energy than a high end air cooling system? right.. so that would be 80% less energy than a fan? I dont think so some how...
GravitySmacked 3rd May 2010, 10:15 Quote
Impressive claims indeed.
FelixTech 3rd May 2010, 10:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teknokid
80% less energy than a high end air cooling system? right.. so that would be 80% less energy than a fan? I dont think so some how...

They might be referring to server racks/hpc systems, which are often like wind tunnels :P
Star*Dagger 3rd May 2010, 10:51 Quote
Ill take 3! One for the cpu and one each for my gpus!
Kalcifer 3rd May 2010, 11:07 Quote
Sign me up, if this lives up to its promises, I will be getting one, maybe even two.

I am very interested in which type of micro-compressor they used, anyone know?
Xir 3rd May 2010, 11:28 Quote
Hmmm, what else boils at 50° Celsius? :D
l3v1ck 3rd May 2010, 11:41 Quote
Will it be like some HSF's that cope well with most chips but struggle with high end hot ones?
EdwardTeach 3rd May 2010, 11:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by
sounds like it will take a few years to filter through to the consumer market
perplekks45 3rd May 2010, 11:48 Quote
If it's cheaper than watercooling I'm in.
eddtox 3rd May 2010, 11:59 Quote
If it's as good as they say it is they'll make a killing in data centres and similar environments.
Combatus 3rd May 2010, 12:01 Quote
Not sure about the 'impressive' reduced power claims, they seem a bit desperate to me considering your average pump uses about 20W plus a few fans which draw next to nothing - even if they used 70% less power this would still only be a saving of less than 18W. Not exactly earth shattering savings when you consider a GTX 480 uses 300W :D. If the vapour needs to evaporate at 50 degrees Celsius for the circulation to kick in, that's already pretty warm so it would be interesting to see how close to ambient one of these could get compared to a high end custom watercooling system.
Deadpunkdave 3rd May 2010, 12:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Combatus
Not exactly earth shattering savings when you consider a GTX 480 uses 300W :D.

Again, i think the efficiency angle is for server rooms where a 70% saving could save significant money.
Xir 3rd May 2010, 12:54 Quote
C5H12 Pentan (Boils at) 36°C (ignites at) 309°C
C6H14 Hexan (Boils at) 69°C (ignites at) 240°C

First: What fluid is used in the "VaporX" coolers?

secondly, in a normal ATX-case the graphicscart is placed "Upside down".
Wouldn't the gas phase be at the hot point (die), and the fluid phase at the cold cooler side?)
Autti 3rd May 2010, 13:21 Quote
NEC discover how fridges work.
Good work. :)

Bit cynical but how can't you be with such claims.
Skiddywinks 3rd May 2010, 13:52 Quote
I can't see how a single fan on a tiny radiator is going to beat watercooling set ups. What are these numbers based on? It's all bullshit. What loop are they comparing this too, at what cost?

Phase change may have the upper hand in terms of getting the heat from the chips quickly, but I can't for the life of me figure out how they expect to get rid of as much heat as my triple radiator and three Gentle Typhoons.

I guess we will have to see.
Pete J 3rd May 2010, 14:21 Quote
Oh, I like the sound of this!

I hope they also start making self-contained GPU aftermarket coolers.
DaMightyMouse 3rd May 2010, 14:56 Quote
If is more efficient, less cumbersome and affordable then WC setups then yes I want one! But without any independent testing I won't get my hopes up just yet...
rickysio 3rd May 2010, 16:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
C5H12 Pentan (Boils at) 36°C (ignites at) 309°C
C6H14 Hexan (Boils at) 69°C (ignites at) 240°C

First: What fluid is used in the "VaporX" coolers?

secondly, in a normal ATX-case the graphicscart is placed "Upside down".
Wouldn't the gas phase be at the hot point (die), and the fluid phase at the cold cooler side?)
Quote:
Working fluid, pure water, is easily vaporized due to the extreme low pressure (<104 Tor or less)

http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/VaporX/VaporX_index.aspx?cid=2

I've no idea what the hell that means - it's late and all my brain returns is: chickens!

God damned chicken rice I had for dinner. :(
Farfalho 3rd May 2010, 16:24 Quote
Well the final question is a bit messed up, sure it looks promising and tempting but without independent testing we can't be sure if it's that good because we always know that companies hype a lot about their new products being the new "shabang" in town.

So, BT be the first to have your hands on that product and proceed with your independent testing that we care so much for, okay? tata xD
metarinka 3rd May 2010, 17:23 Quote
don't think this is meant for extreme OC or heavy duty cooling. Looks like the first products are a "good enough" solution for servers and rack mounts where noise and overall wattage are a concern. lowering the energy draw by 70% on a cooling solution is significant when you have a server room with 100+ blades.

if the working fluid doesn't boil until 50 deg c don't expect some miracle cooling a few degrees above ambient.
Cepheus 3rd May 2010, 19:49 Quote
Guys, they aren't talking about home PCs, where air cooling is far more efficient. They're talking about server rooms, where to cool efficiently you need titanic air con systems or heat removal things. Even cheap, non-rackmount servers have Delta fans in (i've got a 92mm fan that's rated at 100cfm from about ten years ago, ripped from an old server.

Remember, they're trying to cool about a hundred pcs in the same size room as you cool one or two.

In bulk, this could work very well.
HourBeforeDawn 3rd May 2010, 19:49 Quote
Looks like Thermaltake, if they ever get around to releasing their 4 bay phase cooler has some competition then.
dec 3rd May 2010, 20:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickysio
http://www.sapphiretech.com/presentation/VaporX/VaporX_index.aspx?cid=2

I've no idea what the hell that means - it's late and all my brain returns is: chickens!

God damned chicken rice I had for dinner. :(

Its just water. Because of the low pressure the water's boiling point is lowered and the time it takes to boil (when in perfect thermal contact with a constant head source) is also lowered. Which are both good as the specific heat of water remains constant, the faster it can boil and condense the more energy per unit time can be transferred away from the heat source. A lower boiling point also means that the water contains less ambient heat (temperature) during the heat (energy) transfer.

Ideally you would want to have the lowest pressure possible and a fluid with a very high heat capacity and low boiling point (at atmospheric pressure). Theoretically you can get to sub-ambient temps that way.

Butttttt if the pressure is too low your vapor chamber will collapse and ruin your day
loner1994 3rd May 2010, 21:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by metarinka
don't think this is meant for extreme OC or heavy duty cooling. Looks like the first products are a "good enough" solution for servers and rack mounts where noise and overall wattage are a concern. lowering the energy draw by 70% on a cooling solution is significant when you have a server room with 100+ blades.

if the working fluid doesn't boil until 50 deg c don't expect some miracle cooling a few degrees above ambient.

the thing is herte they are talking about saving 70% of the cooling power cost. thats only about 20w per blade and as the blade is using around 300w-400w (asuming dual cpu) that actualy a masive 6% total power save.

just as a side note ithis just removes the heat from the cpu so youle sill need some killer fans to get the heat away for good.

i have degigned a theoretical system that could save 81% of the entire system power draw and if i can get that working then you can celabrate
Star*Dagger 3rd May 2010, 23:18 Quote
It is a good thing that inventors didnt have the internet back in the day, they would have posted on a forum "Using steam to do work", and all the people would have posted (erroneously) "That thing will blow up" "Water cant do that" "You must have spent too much time in a steam super heated room, noob!".

Give it a break guys, this is a great idea for data centres and eventually single PCs. Being skeptical without reason does not make you cool, it makes you look like a troll. Being skeptical and using the scientific method (and selling your invention for 15 billion euros) is cool.

Enjoy,
S*D
Veles 3rd May 2010, 23:37 Quote
I should have paid more attention in thermofluids
llamafur 4th May 2010, 01:18 Quote
It still uses a small radiator, energy in = energy out.
metarinka 4th May 2010, 06:58 Quote
I could be wrong but I thought there was an energy loss with Latent heat during phase change conversions. So matter changing phases is inherently not 100% efficient (which would be a good thing for a cooling device as the energy is converted into kinetic energy.

I could be wrong though.

How does this differ from a heat pipe? I thought they did passive phase change too?
Xir 4th May 2010, 08:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dec
Its just water. Because of the low pressure the water's boiling point is lowered and the time it takes to boil (when in perfect thermal contact with a constant head source) is also lowered. Which are both good as the specific heat of water remains constant, the faster it can boil and condense the more energy per unit time can be transferred away from the heat source. A lower boiling point also means that the water contains less ambient heat (temperature) during the heat (energy) transfer.

Ideally you would want to have the lowest pressure possible and a fluid with a very high heat capacity and low boiling point (at atmospheric pressure). Theoretically you can get to sub-ambient temps that way.

Butttttt if the pressure is too low your vapor chamber will collapse and ruin your day

Correct...
Still the question remains, why does it work upside down and wouldn't the performance be better the other way round?
Quote:

How does this differ from a heat pipe? I thought they did passive phase change too?
It doesn't :D
Ah...well, a second effect takes place: capillary effect.
Appearently (I've never opened one) the inside of a heatpipe is ribbed, so the fluid will go from the "cold" part where it condenses to the "hot" part were it vaporizes even against gravity.
I guess...(again haven't opened one) this is how the Vapour-X chamber works as well.

you can test this by pouring just a bottom of coffee in a cup and stacking three lumps of sugar...the coffee will move up against gravity (till the sugar collapses)

Heatpipes used to be tested in different orientations, and I would still expect them to work best when "hot" is down and "cold" is up....
Testbenches are built this way instead of the normal "sideways" position in an ATX case...coincidence? :D
Xir 4th May 2010, 08:07 Quote
Darn, I should have read the Sapphire page before, it's all there :D
http://www.sapphiretech.com/presenta...dex.aspx?cid=2
They use a wick for the capillary effect.
Aragon Speed 4th May 2010, 09:11 Quote
CFC's? Wasn't using CFC's banned in fridges etc as it was damaging the environment when they got old, rusted, and released the CFC's into the atmosphere?
Gareth Halfacree 4th May 2010, 09:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aragon Speed
CFC's? Wasn't using CFC's banned in fridges etc as it was damaging the environment when they got old, rusted, and released the CFC's into the atmosphere?
Aye - which is why NEC are using CFC-replacements, rather than CFCs. Most of the performance, fewer of the "OMG TEH ENVIRONMENTZORZ" issues.
rollo 4th May 2010, 10:28 Quote
If this ever came to desktops at a decent price most would jump for it

high end water cooling is still very expensive, for little to no benifit over the cheaper water coolers( you need huge oveclocks )

if this is Down In the Titan fenrir price range could be fun.
Santa-san 4th May 2010, 10:48 Quote
chlorofluorocarbon? Sounds dangerous ^^; I think it is cool with new inventions, like that thing from Danamics, don't remember the name atm
rickysio 4th May 2010, 11:25 Quote
If this costs the same as a Titan Fenrir I'd eat my hat.

Not that I have a hat to begin with, but whatever.
Xir 4th May 2010, 13:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickysio
If this costs the same as a Titan Fenrir I'd eat my hat.

Not that I have a hat to begin with, but whatever.

So if it costs the same as a Titan Fenrir, and comes with a hat, would you eat it? :D
rickysio 4th May 2010, 14:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
So if it costs the same as a Titan Fenrir, and comes with a hat, would you eat it? :D

Yes.








After all, chocolate hats taste good. It's bad to waste a perfectly good hat!
RichCreedy 4th May 2010, 15:00 Quote
yeah has anyone seen water in negative pressure, it boils at room temperature
Cyberpower-UK 4th May 2010, 15:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Santa-san
chlorofluorocarbon? Sounds dangerous ^^; I think it is cool with new inventions, like that thing from Danamics, don't remember the name atm

Danamix is where this needs to be performance wise but price would be higher unless they can do it on massive volumes.

There's got to be a Phase Change builder out there who could fit the whole box in 3x5.25" bays so they can be OEM fitted.
aeidau 4th May 2010, 18:06 Quote
Cooling data centers? Theres a more efficient way

Hardcore Computer Liquid Blade Server
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