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Mobile devices, PCs, data centres pose rising thermal issues

Posted: 20 Apr 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Georgia Tech? mobile device? PC? data centre? transistor?

These days, mobile devices, computers and data centres increasingly generate more heat. That is why system designers must constantly worry about removing heat, an unwanted by-product of watching a YouTube video, shooting a selfie, or updating a Facebook page.

In the same way that physical limits on the size of transistors may throttle the performance growth promised by Moore's Law (the expectation that computer processing power will double about every two years), the challenge of removing heat from ever-smaller transistors also poses a threat to continued efficiency improvements. The resulting trade-offs will affect everything that relies on ICs, from mobile phones and tablets all the way up to high-performance computers and data centres the size of football fields.

Microfluidic cooling of a commercial SoC

Figure 1: Georgia Tech researchers have achieved what is believed to be the first microfluidic cooling of a commercial SoC for a mobile device. The liquid cooling reduced energy use by 15-20 per cent. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)

At Georgia Tech, researchers are addressing these thermal challenges in broad and bold ways. Their efforts include designing chips that operate with less power, providing new forms of cooling, and optimising data centre operations.

"The challenges on the small scale are very different from the challenges at the large scale," said Yogendra Joshi, a professor in Georgia Tech's George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, whose research group studies thermal challenges in a comprehensive way. "Everyone wants more capabilities in the devices they are using, but there are trade-offs to be made at each level."

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