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January 8th, 2008
Up to now, cooling just the hot spots, and not the entire chip, has been difficult, though that would conserve resources. For instance, if the kitchen is hot, it is better to cool just that room than to turn up the air conditioning for the whole home.
Nextreme says it can do this. Using nanotechnology, it found a way to apply thermal material called bismuth telluride only in the places that get too hot. It puts a thin film of the material into copper pillar bumps, which are an increasingly popular method for attaching chips to their packages. The bumps themselves aid the cause of cooling, but the thermal material also conducts heat away from the hot spot. Nextreme says it can reduce temperatures by as much as 60 degrees Celsius, though hot spots typically only need 5 to 15 degrees of cooling.
"It brings thermal-management capabilities down to the core of the processor," says Nextreme's Magill. "What we're talking about is: Stop cooling everything, and start cooling only what needs to be cooled." Top of page
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