Sparkle coats GPU coolers with diamond-like carbon

Written by Ben Hardwidge

February 17, 2009 | 13:16

Tags: #bond #carbon #card #conductivity #cooler #diamond #drop #gpu #graphite #hard #heatsink #insulation #membrane #temperature #thermal

Companies: #sparkle

If you’ve ever performed a search for ‘thermal conductivity’ then you’ll know that a diamond encrusted heatsink is the Holy Grail of coolers, and not because it would have more bling than a gansta rapper’s necklace collection. The precious material has a thermal conductivity of up to six times that of copper when measured in watts per metre-Kelvin , and it’s robust too. This is probably why Sparkle has gone for the next best thing in its latest ‘Diamonds Sputtering’ heatsink technology, which involves coating the GPU’s heatsink in diamond-like carbon (DLC).

Of course, diamond-like carbon hasn’t been anywhere near a diamond; it’s just an amorphous form of carbon that has some of the same characteristics. Sparkle says that these include ‘high heat conduction,’ and claims that a coating of the material on a heatsink reduced the temperature of a GeForce 9500 GT from 88°C to 83°C in its own tests – a drop of 5°C.

Explaining the technology, Sparkle pointed out that diamonds dissipate heat in four times the speed as copper because the heat is transferred by phonons, which are produced by vibrations in the crystal lattice of the stones. This differs from heat conduction via a standard metal heatsink, which relies on the movement of electrons in the metal. The company says that DLC can replicate this effect, dispersing heat via a ‘graphite metal bond and a diamond insulation bond (the covalent bond).’

Sparkle also notes that the coating has other advantages, including its ‘super-hard carbon coating,’ which the company says can ‘protect the radiator metal from scratching.’ The company also says that the DLC membrane isolates air from the heatsink, which avoids any reduction in thermal conductivity that occurs due to oxidation, as well as protecting the heatsink from water vapour and erosion.

Sparkle hasn’t announced any graphics cards based on the technology yet, saying that the cost of is currently too high, but says that it will now ‘consider the appropriate application step-by-step’ before announcing new products.

Could DLC-coated heatsinks be the next big thing in cooling technology, or is it a misguided publicity stunt? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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