CPU cooling

From Academic Kids

Missing image
A fan blowing at a CPU heatsink.

A CPU generates heat while operating. In operation the temperature of the CPU will thus rise until the temperature gradient between the CPU and its surroundings is such that the heat flow matches the input and the CPU temperature reaches equilibrium. The heat generated by a CPU is a function of the efficiency of its design, the technology used in its construction, and the voltage at which it operates.

For reliable operation, the equilibrium temperature must be sufficiently low for the structure of the CPU to survive. It is common practice to include thermal sensors in the design of CPUs and internal logic that shuts down the CPU if reasonable bounds are exceeded. It is unwise to rely on this, however, as it is not universally implemented, and even if implemented is intended as a damage limitation feature and may not prevent the CPU temperature from reaching dangerous levels such that repeated incidents will cause premature failure of the CPU.

Some CPU designs are specifically tailored to minimise the energy dissipated in the CPU, and thus the heat flow out of the standard chip packaging is sufficient to maintain the CPU at an acceptable temperature. The design of the CPU may also incorporate features to shut down parts of the CPU when it is idling, or to scale back the clock speed under low workloads, all aimed at reducing the power dissipated in the CPU.

This can be done passively by a heatsink which improves the thermal coupling between the CPU and the surrounding air. This may be combined with positive airflow through the computer case driven by the fans in the power supply, or for still higher power systems by actively cooling the heatsink with one or more integral fans circulating air through the heatsink (see aircooling).

For thermal output beyond what air cooling can cope with, watercooling or possibly even phase change cooling of the CPU becomes necessary. These technologies used to be limited to mainframe computers, but in the relentless search for more power in desktop computers they are coming into use in desktop computers.

Today, high-end desktop processors are dissipating over 100 watts of heat on a surface of <200mm˛.

Until recently, fan cooled aluminium heatsinks were the norm for desktop computers. Today many heatsinks feature copper baseplates or are entirely made of copper, and mount fans of considerable size and power.

To extract the maximum performance from a CPU, a minority of users are using watercooling, Peltier cooling and heatpipe cooling. This relatively expensive technology is especially prevalent amongst overclockers.

The noise and unreliability of fan cooled heatsinks has also spawned another special interest group dedicated to finding technology to reduce the noise generated by computer systems, which comes mainly from the cooling fans in the CPU and power supply. In this field heatpipe cooling shows particular promise.

External links

pl:Wentylator procesora


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools