Genius hybrid heatsink fan can make your computer run faster

Most computers deal with heat the same way: there's a heat sink (a big radiator) attached to the processor, and a fan that blows air over it. Combining these two things into a heat sink that spins is a brilliant new idea that will make your entire computer cleaner, faster and more efficient.

The problem with traditional heat sinks (the big copper finned things that you probably have inside your computer right now) is that while all that surface area is fine for transferring heat away from the processor, a layer of air clings to the fins, acting as in insulator. To compensate, you can crank the fan up to move more air, but that's noisy and annoying and wastes energy. And since the heat sink itself doesn't move, those fins become a great place for dust to collect, which just makes everything worse.

Jeff Koplow, a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories, has developed an "air bearing heat exchanger," which is just a fancy way of saying that he took a heat sink and a fan and turned them into the same thing:


The heat exchanger is separated from the processor by a mere thousandth of an inch, and as the exchanger spins, it forces air outwards from the center, cooling the fins and eliminating that pesky insulating boundary layer. This is so efficient that it can be run at very low (and quiet) speeds, and it even lets you kick your processor up a notch or two without overheating. Oh, and did we mention that the moving heat sink is immune to dust? 'Cause it is.

As you can see from the pic, there's a prototype of this thing in existence, and it doesn't incorporate any fancy electronics or precious metals, just good design. Hopefully, this means that it'll be cheaply mass-producible and available on the market soon, although it can't possibly be soon enough.

Air Bearing Heat Exchanger (PDF), via ExtremeTech

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