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Intelligent Machines

Cooling Off Computers

Cooligy’s micromachined system chills chips, paving the way for faster, more powerful computers.

As the semiconductor industry continues its quest for smaller and faster chips, it’s running into a heat wave. With more transistors crammed onto them, chips are using more power and hence getting hotter-and the heat is becoming more concentrated and harder to dissipate. The problem has become so severe that, for chips used in applications such as servers and laptops, gains in processing speed have started to do some dissipating of their own.

Cooligy, a startup out of Stanford University, says it has a solution: a micromachined cooling system that works much like the radiator in your car. Cooligy claims its liquid-based system can remove at least 30 percent more heat than existing cooling technologies in high-performance computers while replacing noisy, high-speed fans with far quieter ones. “We have a way to break through the heat barrier for many generations [of faster chips] to come,” says Dave Corbin, Cooligy’s CEO.

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