Is Intel cheaping out on the IHS thermal interface for Ivy Bridge?

ivy die Is Intel cheaping out on the IHS thermal interface for Ivy Bridge?

There's no denying that Intel's Ivy Bridge CPUs are running hotter than expected, especially during overclocking and so far no-one has really managed to figure out what's going on, but now reports are coming in that it might be related to the thermal compound Intel is using. If this really is the case is something that will take further investigation, but for now it looks like it at least could be part of the reason why Intel's new chips run so hot.

There's no denying that Intel's Ivy Bridge CPUs are running hotter than expected, especially during overclocking and so far no-one has really managed to figure out what's going on, but now reports are coming in that it might be related to the thermal compound Intel is using. If this really is the case is something that will take further investigation, but for now it looks like it at least could be part of the reason why Intel's new chips run so hot.

As you may or may not know, the metal plate on top of a CPU is there to help transfer the heat from the actual die to the CPU cooler and it's generally referred to as a heat spreader. The job of the heat spreader is exactly what the name says, to spread the heat from the CPU die out to a larger area. However, the smaller the CPU die, the harder it is for the heat spread to interface with the CPU die and this was initially thought to be the issue.

ivy die Is Intel cheaping out on the IHS thermal interface for Ivy Bridge?

Now some enterprising overclockers has removed the heat spreader on an Ivy Bridge CPU and found that Intel is using what appears to be cheap generic silicon based thermal compound, something we haven't seen widely used for CPU for a very long time. According to Overclockers.com Intel has stated that they're using a special thermal compound, but judging by the picture posted by the website, it doesn't look all that special to us, or even that well applied. The website goes as far as to say that Intel should've used fluxless solder instead of any kind of thermal compound, as it offers much higher thermal conductivity than any kind of thermal compound. In fact, they go as far as to linking to an Intel patent for using fluxless solder as a bonding solution for attaching the heat spreader to the CPU die that was granted all the way back in 2006.

Doing this is said to increase the thermal conductivity between the CPU die and the heat spreader by as much as 16 times compared to using thermal compound. Due to the small die area, this makes a lot of sense on a logical level, but the question is what the cost difference is to Intel, we'd presume it's fairly high, especially as the fluxless solder method involves gold, platinum, or palladium as well as titanium or tantalum to work. The website claims that Sandy Bridge was using fluxless solder, but we can't seem to find any definite proof of this, but it does appear as if Intel was using a different thermal compound for Sandy Bridge.

Whatever the issue, Intel needs to address this issue on the overclockable K models if nothing else, as most users buying these SKUs are expecting a CPU that can be overclocked. Using a better thermal compound could potentially help improve things, but it's also possible that this is an issue only affecting engineering samples of the new Ivy Bridge CPUs, as these are the chips that reviewers got their hands on. We'll have to wait and see what kind of answer Intel comes up with, but admittedly this shouldn't be an issue for anyone not overclocking their system.

Source: Overclockers.com

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