sandia cooler 2 Is the Air Bearing Heat Exchanger the future of CPU cooling?

An outfit called Sandia National Laboratories has developed something called an "Air Bearing Heat Exchanger" or as they like to call it, the Sandia Cooler and it's said to change the way we cool our CPUs. The name is a lot fancier than the technology itself, but it does have some merits compared to a regular heatsink/fan cooler.

An outfit called Sandia National Laboratories has developed something called an "Air Bearing Heat Exchanger" or as they like to call it, the Sandia Cooler and it's said to change the way we cool our CPUs. The name is a lot fancier than the technology itself, but it does have some merits compared to a regular heatsink/fan cooler.

What makes the Sandia Cooler so special is the fact that the cooling fins themselves are actually moving and this is said to remove the "thermal bottleneck" of current CPU coolers. This is done by placing a brushless DC motor in the centre of the heatsink, a spot that's usually where the motor of the fan is located.

sandia cooler 1 Is the Air Bearing Heat Exchanger the future of CPU cooling?

The cooler has a stationary base plate and there's a 0.001-inch (0.0254mm) gap between the base plat and the rotating fins. Now we can see this becoming a huge precision manufacturing issue, as a gap that small is going to be hard to produce. However, this design is meant to alleviate what is claimed to be a layer of "dead air" that "clings to the cooling fins".

So far the cooler has only been created in a proof-of-concept prototype, but it's said to offer several times the cooling performance of a regular CPU cooler. The top part of the heatsink is said to rotate at a speed of "a few thousand rpm" but no specifics were given. The fin structure has been designed to be aerodynamic which in turn is said to make it extremely quiet during operation. On top of that, final production coolers are said to be up to 10 times smaller than current "state-of-the-art" CPU coolers, whatever that refers to.

sandia cooler 2 Is the Air Bearing Heat Exchanger the future of CPU cooling?

Apparently the design also prevents the cooler from being "fouled" by dust, i.e. it's not meant to collect dust, unlike your average CPU cooler which tends to need a good clean every few months. It's also meant to be more energy efficient than current air coolers, although considering fan coolers are using similar kinds of DC motors, we don't quite get this point. The technology is currently being offered for licensing and it seems like we'll have to wait and see if there are any takers or not. It sounds a little bit too good to be true, but we'll wait with interest to see where this goes.

Source: Sandia National Laboratories