GE Develops Ultra-Thin, Almost-Silent Cooler for Next-Gen Laptops and Tablets
Posted December 12, 2012 9:56 AM
General Electric has unveiled what seems to be the thinnest, high-performance cooler for the next-generation of ultra-thin tablets and laptops (pictured above). While this cooler obviously allows for slimmer designs (or more space for other components), it also uses just half the power of a comparable fan, granting a significant boost to battery life. Oh, it's almost silent, too.The technology behind GE's cooler is called DCJ - Dual Piezoelectric Cooling Jets. DCJ basically acts as a miniature pair of bellows: Expanding to suck in cool air, and then contracting to expel hot air. GE originally invented DCJ to help cool commercial jet engines, but two years ago it seems someone had the clever idea of miniaturizing the tech for use in computers - and so here we are.At 2:15 in the video below you can see the DCJ in action, inside a modern ultrabook laptop. The rest of the video is a bit fluffy, featuring lots of dramatic lighting and excessive use of protective goggles.As you can see above, GE's cooler is roughly the size and thickness of a credit card, but the press release states that the complete cooling solution (presumably including a heatsink/pipe) is 4mm. This is apparently 50% thinner than existing fan-based solutions, and obviously rather significant as we move towards tablets and laptops that are sub-8mm.
Perhaps most importantly, though, according to GE VP Chris Giovanniello, "DCJ can be made so quiet that users won't even know it's running." This is partly because the tech is fundamentally different from a fan - there's no blade whizzing through the air at thousands of RPM, and thus no buzzing or vibrations - but it's also because DCJ supports very localized cooling. Instead of a complex heat pipe and fan assembly, GE suggests that you might instead have a bunch of smaller, more efficient DCJs directly attached to components that need cooling.
Moving forward, GE has already licensed DCJ tech to Fujikura, a Japanese thermal management company. GE is also providing OEMs with DCJ kits, so that they can test the technology out in next-generation tablets and laptops. Realistically, we should see DCJ cooling solutions sometime in the next couple of years.