Intel details 3D printed vapour cooling system to boost Moore’s Law

Intel details 3D printed vapour cooling system to boost Moore’s Law

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Intel has detailed some of the work it is doing with the COOLERCHIPS programme in the US on a 3D printed vapour cooling system for its processors that it says can boost Moore’s Law.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) announced 15 companies working in COOLERCHIPS back in May to develop new cooling technologies, with projects including Nvidia and HP.

The projects are important as future data centre processors are expected to require power in excess of 2kW, which would be challenging to cool with existing technologies as today’s most powerful chips are fast approaching 1 kW of power use.

The cooling solutions developed through the programme will be produced through Intel Foundry Services. This will enable the continuation of Moore’s law says Intel in a bold statement.

The project is developing coral-shaped immersion cooling heat sinks with ultra-low-thermal resistance integrated within a 3D vapour chamber cavity that uses two-phase immersion cooling to spread the heat more effectively. The team is aiming to improve two-phase immersion cooling system from 0.025 °C/watt to less than 0.01 °C/watt..

Researchers will 3D-print the heat sinks and test the evaporators under a range of operating conditions. The team will then pair the vapour chamber designs with coatings that reduce thermal resistance by promoting high nucleation site density. These coatings are currently applied on a flat surface, but research shows a coral-like heat sink design with internal groove-like features has the highest potential for external heat transfer coefficients with two-phase immersion cooling.

Computational methods will identify the optimal design for the coral-shaped heat sinks rather then the long, parallel ribs of today’s heatsinks and the researchers will integrate these into a two-phase immersion cooling system where servers operate in a specially designed sealed tank that uses a non-conductive liquid medium.

The heat generated by servers causes the liquid to boil and generates vapour, which in turn goes through a phase change returning it to a liquid state while removing the heat (much like a home air conditioning system).


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