CES 2015: CoolChip Technologies and Cooler Master Show Kinetic Cooling

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2015 - 11:19 PM |
Tagged: kinetic cooling, cooler master, coolchip, ces 2015, CES

During CES we saw a demonstration of a new genre of processor cooling that truly wowed me. That is tough to do - heatsinks and even self-contained water blocks appear to be a dime a dozen these days. Cooler Master has partnered with CoolChip technologies, a start up that promises to make processor cooling more efficient, 2x smaller and quieter too. The secret is kinetic cooling.

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Kinetic cooling works by removing the typical fan in a heatsink design and replacing it with a piece of rotating metal. This top metal has fins that resemble that of traditional fans that move air UP and away from the heatsink assembly. These fins are mated with a cooling plate, a base piece of metal that comes in contact with the processor and transfers the heat away.

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The key is the connection between the top and bottom metal: using a very thin layer of air that resides between a set of interlocking grooves, the small motor in the center of the cooler spins the groves inside each other without touching, drawing heat from the stationary portion to the rotating one.

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This is a prototype of a hybrid cooler combining heatpipes and CoolChip

The result is a cooler that is just as efficient as today's but can be small and generate less noise. Because the top half of the heatsink is actually rotating to provide air movement, you no longer need a fan, lowering z-height. And because you are halving the number of places air is making contact (just fan blades versus fan blades and heatsink fins), sound levels are significantly lower for similar TDPs.

Oh and they look damn cool too. CoolChip says that pricing and build cost will be in line with current heatsinks, alleviating worries of high prices.

Check out the video we did with CoolChip for a demonstration!

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!


January 8, 2015 | 12:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I swear I saw some extremely similar to this concept on the XS forums two years back.

January 8, 2015 | 12:09 AM - Posted by Pholostan

Probably the Sandia Labs thing back in 2011:

https://share.sandia.gov/news/resources/news_releases/cooler/#.VK4PnM3d-Ak

http://techreport.com/news/21262/sandia-designed-cpu-cooler-lacks-fan-ro...

Etc. Looks very similar. Probably has the same problems, expensive to make.

January 8, 2015 | 12:42 AM - Posted by arbiter

I remember seeing this on PCper about 2 years ago which sounds right. Took them long enough to get a product for it.

January 8, 2015 | 01:04 AM - Posted by Kingkookaluke (not verified)

Looks like a hell of a dust collector to me.
Just saying...

January 8, 2015 | 12:52 PM - Posted by lordbinky (not verified)

The spinning part SHOULD keep a good amount of dust from collecting on it per the sandia cooler information from awhile ago. I've been hoping to see this design enter product form for awhile.

January 8, 2015 | 04:33 AM - Posted by Master Chen (not verified)

I find it very hard to believe that something like this is actually capable of cooling 2500K/2550K/2600K/3570K/3770K OverClocked to 4.4GHz (which is a pretty standard situation these days), to something below 70c.

January 8, 2015 | 12:47 PM - Posted by lordbinky (not verified)

That's what makes it so impressive. The shear air barrier is actually very heat conductive making it a unseemingly excellent cooler. This specific model I can't say, but it is still a really impressive design this is based on.

January 8, 2015 | 03:34 PM - Posted by Master Chen (not verified)

They said it'll be available commercially by the end of 2015...I find it very hard to believe it actually works so well as you proclaim. Until I'll see it with my own eyes after I buy one, I'm highly skeptical. We'll see, I guess...we'll see...

Also:
There's one VERY TINY and ABSOLUTELY INSIGNIFICANT problem that might arise...look at the orientation of this thing...even SFF solutions might have problems (hell - I actually bet that majority of them WILL have problems with this thing if it turns out that without good air flow chart this thing isn't all that good at all sheer cooling sustainability-wise). It's one thing if you put this in something like the GODLIKE BitFenix Prodigy or exceptionally low heat-producing HTPC solution/console, but it might get (and probably will) pretty ugly pretty fast in Elite 130 or something like M1 to that matter.

Modern top-of-the-line god tier air coolers like Noctua's NH-D14, Cryorig's R1 Ultimate, and other massive towers, have their fins and fans oriented that way so they exhaust the hot air at the back of the case, where the actual exhaust is. Sandia's technology's design (and even Coolchip's improved model's), on the other hand, obviously just throws the hot air out everywhere, in all directions, 360 degrees around the unit, which is an actually extremely bad thing if you have crappy air flow cooling chart in your PC case by default, and especially if you're putting something like this in a SSF factored systems like ITX or HTPCs. That's a massive problem. And how these guys are going to fix this problem, if they're able to at all, which I doubt, is beyond me, until I'll personally see with my own eyes how the goddamn thing works and performs, in a standard consumer build (be that ITX or a full-sized tower case).

January 8, 2015 | 06:09 AM - Posted by undermined

I also thought I remembered something like this tech before too:

http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=2722

It seems that it is shouldn't be priced as a premium if CoolerMaster partnered with them to bring it to marked but I wonder how will it work vertically or inverted on say a GPU.

January 8, 2015 | 12:51 PM - Posted by lordbinky (not verified)

I remember reading orientation doesn't matter. I am curious how it handles physical shocks though. I'd hate to have something bump it and it tear itself apart. It's dangerous enough when I've had the thick plastic ultra kaze fan blades flying, I'd hate to think of a metal fin going somewhere.

January 8, 2015 | 03:48 PM - Posted by Master Chen (not verified)

You say that orientation might not matter, but just stop and think for a second: by all charts both the Sandia and Coolchip provided so far it's pretty evident that the thing intakes cold air in the center and exhausts the hot air in the 360 degree ratio around itself (like tornado, actually. Basically the center turns into a typical storm "eye" with extremely low pressure inside). Now think. Where do you see all of this hot air produced being flying? That's right, you guessed it. Inside the case. On on the motherboard components, GPU, and everything else. Now add to this that the GPU installed might also have an opened design. That's x2 times more the heat thrown out back inside the case, thus even more heat flying right at the motherboard's components (chips, capacitors and etc)...

Also, please do note that this thing in it's entirety is basically a ROTATING PIECE OF METAL, AND A HUEG/HEAVY ONE AT THAT. Just imagine what would happen if this thing's mounting system suddenly fails even so slightly and the darn thing simply flies away by the sheer kinetic power produced during the spinning. Ugh. That won't be a pretty sight, that's for sure.
You think a broken plastic/carbon fan is something bad? Just try imagining this thing flying the hell off inside your case.

March 4, 2015 | 11:10 AM - Posted by Nate1492 (not verified)

This will act like a gyroscope.

The spin will keep it stable, in place. This is essentially how we orient spaceships.

We aren't talking kilograms worth of metal here, it's still pretty light, but even if there was a hiccup, bump, or a failure, it simply would stop spinning.

Your point about dumping air from top to components is reasonable to wonder about, and in some setups, it won't be ideal. The same goes for all cooling solutions, direction matters... But you are wrong about the safety here. This is as safe as any fan in your system.

January 8, 2015 | 06:55 AM - Posted by Shortwave (not verified)

Fuck, yes.

January 8, 2015 | 09:14 AM - Posted by collie

I love it. So if it's quite and small I want one. I want 2 actualy. Someone sell me one for a 66w FM2 and one for a 25w AM1, SOMEONE SHUTUP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

One concern tho, it looks sharp. I'm the kinda person who tends to touch a fan to see if it's spinning, this looks like a trip to the hospital on a forgetful night.

January 8, 2015 | 10:27 AM - Posted by Master Chen (not verified)

Simple: if it spins - it works. They've clearly shown in that video that the thing simply doesn't spin if it's not in a working state, because there's no "passive" non-spinning mode for this thing. It either spins or it doesn't, and if it doesn't spin - it's not working/turned off. Andf you can clearly see visual difference between a spinning (thus working) one and non-spinning (thus not working) one, so putting your finger to something like this would be extremely stupid thing to do, because it's very apparent and obvious when this thing actually works.

January 8, 2015 | 12:45 PM - Posted by lordbinky (not verified)

It shouldn't harm you if you touch it, although it might cause you to jump. The direction of spin is along the curve and not against it so it'd should just thump along your hand, not cut into it.

January 13, 2015 | 03:06 PM - Posted by -- (not verified)

do you also stick your finger in outlets to make sure they are working?

January 8, 2015 | 02:42 PM - Posted by larsoncc

That heat sink looks awesome. Can't believe the size!

January 8, 2015 | 03:59 PM - Posted by Kingkookaluke (not verified)

I'm curious. Is this driven ,or does it run via conduction? Like one of those propellers over a candle? I've watched the video again and am still unclear.

Hmmm....

January 8, 2015 | 04:18 PM - Posted by Master Chen (not verified)

It has a power connector, obviously. Probably a direct constant current is applied.

January 9, 2015 | 10:30 AM - Posted by Shurato (not verified)

It is based on the Sandia Cooler.

From the coolchip website-

"The concept of using a thin air gap between the stationary and rotating components was developed and patented at Sandia National Labs.*

CoolChip has invested heavily in technology development beyond the original Sandia Labs concept with high-volume manufacturability, high-volume production pricing, and reliability considerations taken into account. Sourcing, reliability, and supply chain planning are paramount. Given the high volume opportunities, CoolChip is currently vetting best-in-class partners with access to global end-to-end supply chain solutions, hardware design, manufacturing and logistics capabilities.

*Use of Sandia name does not constitute an endorsement by Sandia Corporation or Sandia National Laboratories of CoolChip Technologies or its products."

January 11, 2015 | 07:35 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wonder how easily something like this could be used to cool a GPU. I can picture a new generation of reference cards using this instead of a traditional blower.

January 14, 2015 | 05:30 PM - Posted by Qrash

How well will this type of cooler work in a vertical orientation? That is, would there be an issue for the bearing(s)? I know hard drives can be mounted vertically, but they are in a sealed environment. Just wondering.

March 4, 2015 | 11:21 AM - Posted by Nate1492 (not verified)

Between the gyroscope effect and the air boundary layer, this will work just fine in any orientation.