Cooling a smartphone processor with wax? It's possible, researchers say

Cooling a smartphone processor with wax? It's possible, researchers say
Our smartphones – or the high-tech SoCs inside them, in particular – are now more powerful than they have ever been. The 2GHz CPU milestone has already been surpassed, 8-core processors are now a reality, and GPUs are capable of driving games with console-quality graphics. But the further a smartphone chip is being pushed, the more heat it releases – heat that has to be dissipated one way or another. And while some new smartphones already make use of advanced cooling techniques involving liquids, a group of researchers from the University of Michigan is suggesting a somewhat different approach. 

Their weapon of choice? Wax. Yup, the same stuff they make candles out of is also very good at absorbing heat quickly, as it turns out. Furthermore, a processor chip coated in the material may allow a technique called "computational sprinting" to be implemented. In plain words, that would allow the CPU to deliver a short burst of extra processing power when it is needed. The wax would take away the excessive heat as it melts, preventing the chip from overheating. 

The downside to this concept, however, is that when the wax turns into liquid, it loses its heat absorption properties and needs to solidify again before another "sprint" can be performed. Nevertheless, the team believes their idea could potentially allow future chips to be driven faster for longer periods of time. If research shows that there truly is any benefit to cooling mobile processors with wax, then a commercial solution may become reality in the next 5 to 10 years. 

source: Wired via Gizmodo



1. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

Thermal paste > Thermal Wax, that garbage that comes preapplied to heatsinks is wax and it is horrible compared to the good stuff.

9. tedkord

Posts: 17464; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Yes, but that paste is just for thermal transfer to the heatsink, which dissipates the heat. This does the actual cooling by absorbing the heat. I'm not saying this works, I don't know. But it's a different concept.

2. renz4

Posts: 319; Member since: Aug 10, 2013

that diagram is tegra isn't? lol for once i thought it have something to do with cooling the tegra chip :P

3. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

4. mr.techdude

Posts: 571; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

Yeah I think that means tegra chips get overheated a lot easier then any other.

5. kozza3

Posts: 778; Member since: Oct 17, 2012

in 5-10 years hopefully we can develop a chipset that doesn't waste energy on heat

6. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

This is a passively cooled desktop coprocessor for servers that has no fan, it has 61 cores and outputs 1 teraflop of power. It is possible if they can do it with a desktop coprocessor. They sell a version with a fan at higher clocks it looks like this: in 5-10 years we won't be using silicon chips anymore, the standard will switch to carbon nanotubes. Also if Moores law continues in 5-10 years transistors will be smaller than atoms.

7. juandante

Posts: 679; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

No impossible or should I say not usefull. On a desktop PC / Workkstation you have space to put big fans, on a mobile phone none. You would be actually limiting the desktop with this. But this technique is not "new", same things happens to water boiling on fire, or for example when you drink fresh water and you are hot => the water "absorbs" your heat, cooling you, then you can piss the water or if you stop working out, you will cool out and the water will cool out, same thing here... So I think this article is not complete why they are using wax.

8. JGuinan007

Posts: 699; Member since: May 19, 2011

that's what broke my last Smart phone

10. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

The problem I see is wax seems to really work only in one direction. Even liquified it's pretty thick, you'd need some kind of pump in your mobilel. And the only way wo pump it is while liquified which means now your just shuffling around hot wax. Unless they do just want to let gravity take it's course and let all the wax pull at the bottom of the handset. Of course, then you have the problem of once the wax cools it will all just soldify there and then you can't really do anything with it... Oh my god... Unless: No centralized area for processing cores. Multiple cores, all spread out. Some on, some not. As the core heats up it moves the wax to cool at a core that's presently off not generating any heat. Oh yeah, figured it out. Pay me please. Wait, does this mean I shouldn't or shouldn't use a Q-Tip to clean out my phones ear?

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