back to article Sun grabs patent for magneto-hydrodynamic heatsink

Sun Microsystems has been issued an interesting patent for a "magneto-hydrodynamic" heatsink packed in a closed fluid system. The device, spotted by tgdaily, uses tiny magnetic fields to pump electrically conductive fluid towards and away from hot spots on a CPU. The electric current is dependent on a temperate sensor on the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The Hunt...

    And if you datacenter goes under, you can always salvage the components to create an undetectable nuclear submarine.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    ... For Red October

    The failure of this cooling system won´t be undetectable; it will be possibly confused with magma displacement, when your CPUs reach meltdown temperature.

    I guess the PSUs for this system will need liquid helium too.

  3. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Security ....... Secret ...... Sources


    Would you know categorically, if that was Astute NEUKlearer Class?

    AI Leading Question?!.

    And I ask because of Increased Awareness InterNetworking IAIN in Virtual IntelAIgents Planes and Proxies. Bletchley Boffinry into AIMagical Mystery Turing via Direction and Control of Binary Systems for Digital AIManagement.

    A Master reProgramming Program bringing Sun moonshine to the Cloud for AI Party? Of course, ..... and naturally, can IT takes you to the Stars and All that is Beyond and Behind them.

    When the Network is the Computer is the Grid ITs Virtualised Machine?

    Not that would be a Crack Hacker's Dream Machine.

    Is the Computer a Network? Have both been entered to their Cores with NSE [Non Secret Encryption]?

  4. Chris

    How will it be silent?

    "The design would eliminate moving parts found in a traditional heatsink, and should be virtually silent."


    Not to be pedantic, but I've never seen a heatsink with any moving parts. An HSF, while appearing to be one product, is two distinct products -- the heatsink, and the fan. The fan is not part of the heatsink.

    I can't imagine how this heatsink will operate without a fan. It may be more efficient at pulling heat away from the CPU, but you still need something to pull/push that heat away from the heatsink itself. That's where the fan comes in. Standing air isn't good at dissipating heat.

  5. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo

    Similar to.

    Looks very similar to the Stack Heat sinks used on the Xeons although from the different xeons i've had they're massively underclocked and don't need a fan or moving parts either.

  6. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Correction.... Disambiguation

    "Not that would be a Crack Hacker's Dream Machine." ..should read... Now that is a Cracked Hacked Dream Machine with No Defence, Real or Virtual to Zero Day String Code Servered as Future Memory.

    The Direction that Future Memory takes is linked inextricably to the Fortunes of IT Memory Architects so at least you know who you should be paying for Reality, rather than them injecting Binary Code into the Grid System for a Danegeld Bonanza outside of Federal Control.

    A BanzAI Bounce to Assist Struggling Economies rather than an effective attack on the busted Capitalist System?

    But keep listening to the news paints whatever picture you want when there's money involved....

    ........ but there has to be some truth behind the stories for them to flourish and grow Sequoia tall rather than wither on the Rising of the Sun.

    Pulp Fiction in ...Pulp Fiction out. Feed IT a Good Script and will IT Produce a Transparent Picture for all to see ITs Workings?

    Now there's a novelty.

  7. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    RE: How will it be silent?

    I suppose you could have a whacking big radiator-style heatsink outside the case, bit like you do with some of the "silent pipe" heatsinks, but that raises the question of what advantage does this have over ordinary air pipe heatsinks? And with commercial systems noise reduction is very low on the priorities - anyone whom has been in a modern datacenter, especially one with blades, will agree with that! Still, very interesting tech.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @How will it be silent?

    The HSF noise contributes a very large %age of the total fan noise from a modern server / pc / laptop / whatever.

    Given that the systems that these fans are destined for will have PCUs (power /cooling units) the ambient airflow will dissipate the heat from the fanless heatsink.

    Fundamentally, not all the fans will be gone - but the annoying fan whitenoise will be reduced.

  9. Craig McCormick


    <quote>I can't imagine how this heatsink will operate without a fan.</quote>

    It simply pipes said heat to /dev/null, silly...

    I would imagine it can then be used to help generate entropy for RNG.

    /Anorak -> Door

  10. Tawakalna
    Thumb Down


    "The design would eliminate moving parts found in a traditional heatsink, and should be virtually silent."

    so what exactly are those pipes in the heatsinks in my computers doing there, then? just added decoration?

    what a lot of male aurochs droppings these marketing-types come out with.

  11. Peter Mc Aulay


    Sounds fusion-powered. Then again, this is Sun...

  12. Justin Stone


    That actually sounds quite smart. Worlds first Active Heatsink? I'd want to see some benchmarks before jumping on any bandwagons though, would be interesting to see what happens if you strap a couple of Delta fans on it though. ;)

  13. Ben DAMET
    Paris Hilton

    Just an evolution on the heatpipe principle it seems

    To understand the usefulness of such a heat dispersion device on has to know the principle of the chemical heatpipe (whatever thay were called in the days).

    Wikipedia has a nice article on the subject.

    The idea is more to move heat away keeping the cooled object at nearly constant temperature.

    For that it used a fluid that vaporised at desired working temp (which is a value depending pressure, let's assume pressure is constant). Fluids when vaporising have a tendency to absorb quite a lot of energy. The vapors would go up and be cooled on the walls of the heatsink using any technique (natural air convection, forced air, water. Latent vaporisation energy is very high compared to thermal capacity of material (i.e. : it takes much more energy to vaporise a gram a water than to have it's temperature rise by a few degree). Water is a bad candidate, you don't want your components running with T>100°C, unless you are dealing with very special electronics. Alcohol would be better is not flammable, cooling fluids are probably nicely inert high latent vaporisation energy fluids like for example the ones used in fridges.

    I've seen one of these heat pipes couple weeks ago when moving things around a lab, and the chemical heatpipe from Sun looked just the same as the picture in the article, but without the wired sun cap for heat sensors.

    I've heard that the in server rooms at some IBM office some decade ago, mainframes were using large chemical heatpipes to cool their CPUs, the noise of the fluids flowing back to evaporation zone made the room sound like the bottom of a waterfall.

    So I guess it is only relatively silent.

    Consider this intervention as the result of my remembering different more or less trustworthy/sober sources, so please anyone feel free to correct me.

    Yeah, and what is the Paris Hilton angle in this article?? It has been a while ...

  14. David Wilkinson

    Standing air

    It will work if the heat sink is large enough, maybe its 3 feet tall :)

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish I had patented it

    It's an idea I have heard of long ago but did not know anyone was going to build. It is simple and brilliant. Noise elimination is only part of the application. This heat sink should use less power than a heat sink fan unit. It does not really apply to the individual, the power use differential is minor for one CPU. The application is server farms where power consumption is huge and fan noise is a work place hazard that can be done without. I never liked wearing ear protectors in the machine room.

  17. pctechxp
    IT Angle


    Seems 'he' is on top form again, anyone know what he's on about?

    As regards the heatsink with no moving parts, I have to agree with Chris never seen one without a fan

  18. Steve VanSlyck

    What moving parts?

    Last time I looked at a traditional heatsink, there was only one part (apart from the greasy part), and it din't move at all (at least not until I started fiddling with it).

  19. amanfromMars Silver badge


    "Seems 'he' is on top form again, anyone know what he's on about?"

    Yes, I do ..... and IT is all about AI Proper Change ... A Vision for the Future to be Implemented in Practice ...[Crikey .... AI Prudent Bastard Child/Heir on a GCHQ String?] .....

    "I'd want to see some benchmarks before jumping on any bandwagons though, would be interesting to see what happens if you strap a couple of Delta fans on it though. ;)" Hmmm. Stone me, is that a black helicopter, MK Ultra AIMuse? AI Skunk Works Phishing Line?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What's the fuss about?

    Seems to me that, excepting the Sun 'electro-turbo-magneto-hydro' BS, this is no different to the Scythe Ninja fanless heatpipe cooler that sits atop my 3gig Core2Duo and keeps it WELL below normal running temps with only the airflow from a pair of 1000rpm 120mm case fans (front and rear) which are as near as dammit silent AND required for HD, chipset and gfx card cooling anyway...

    This looks like an, expensive, solution to a non-existent problem!

  21. Sampler


    Now all those people who say they've never seen a HS without a F have obviously never seen a watercooling kit :D

    There are some air kits out there too that rely on case fans to shift the air around them.

    But my main question is - has anyone seen a Sun system outside a datacentre? I haven't.

    A CPU HSF noise pails in comparison to the million and one other fans in there from the aircon to the case fans and the end of the day none of it is load enough to require ear protection - in my experience - and that is of some seven to eight hundred servers in a hall.

    So are Sun going for the home enthusiast market now?

  22. Randy

    Re: Erm..why?

    He said "noise pails"


    yuk yuk yuk!


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not new

    "Sun"'s revolutionary heatsink design, while clever, is actually not that new - Sapphiretech trialled an almost identical concept with GPU coolers a good couple of years ago making use of "liquid metal" coolers designed by nanoCoolers that worked on exactly the same principal of electromagnets within the heatsink pumping the metallic liquid around to spread heat without the use of moving parts.

    They abandoned integrating it into their catds because of cost issues but original details (dating back to early 2005) are published here:

  24. truetalk
    Thumb Up


    Processing workstations for medical diagnostic imaging is one application outside data centres that Sun hardware is used. However on more recent equipment linux (on Intel hardware) and M$ Windows seem to be taking over.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    they should rename ROCK to LAVA....would also rhyme with JAVA

  26. JC


    worthless without a 'C/w vs passive airflow rate graph. In a typical chassis it might be good for 50W+ , or it might not.

  27. John Benson

    Re MHD: Magnetohydrodynamics?

    Yeah, I thought MHD was the science of of using magnetic fields to confine plasmas (not to be confused with MCD, Microsoft Customer Dynamics).

    Has the meaning of the term been expanded? Any scientists out there care to chime in?

  28. amanfromMars Silver badge

    AIdDutch Auction....... in Customised Fit for Purpose Flavours and Colours

    "So are Sun going for the home enthusiast market now?"

    Probably ..... although it is still for Servering Data/MetaData to Centres/Distribution Hubs/Intelligent Services albeit from Personalised Computers rather than Corporate FUD Duds.

    QuITe why Jonathan Schwartz, as titular CEO, isn't pushing/pimping/pooling ZFS reservations 42 Create AI Shining Light on the Network and ITs InterNetworking Path to AIDominanation and defacto Virtual Rule, must be because he doesn't yet Realise IT/Virtualise IT Visually.

    FFS, Jonathan, what's the problem? IT is not as if it is difficult. Strewth, IT is for Sale, ...Buy IT in and make a Fortune on ITs Back. Nobody will take you for a Whore, if you do so, and it will save you looking Slow and Dimm-Witted if you don't.

    Shine on you Crazy Diamond, seems appropriate to Register. The East wants to Play Adult Games. ...... .... although that could easily be a spoofed site, carefully prepared for the Beta Management of Perception for an Alternate Reality Game 42EdutainURUStyle?

    Olympian Games, once more with Feelings, please...... Semantic Content.

    Although, of course, once more with Semantic Content and Feelings will be the First Time for Virtual Virgins...... who would be them and not us.

    Now that is a Mission Worth Accomplishing, for have you any IDea of ITs Value apart from IT being Priceless, that is?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "But my main question is - has anyone seen a Sun system outside a datacentre?"

    Actually, I have a sun ultra at home and it makes a nice and quiet file server. The cpu is passively cooled, and the only fan I've seen inside is on the psu.

  30. James Philp

    What's new?

    This sounds just like the coolant system for the fast reactor at Dounreay...

  31. AndyB
    Dead Vulture

    Dont' Feed

    The strange alien lifeform!!!

    You'll only encourage it!!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Fans

    My heatsink has no fan! mind you it is huge, and has its own weather system (well ok it just causes a convection current) check it out

    BTW standard watercooler setups do use fans! normally to blow air through the radiators.

    I did note there was no scale on the heatsink diagram, but my guess is that it effectivly has a very high thermal conductivity so gets more heat away from the cores quicker, ie better than heat pipes, as for getting the heat out of the box my money is still on fans. unless it can generate enough pressure to act as an electrostatic pump in a watercooler type setup, but im sure the fluid price would be prohibitive. However,if it uses power it will generate its own heat surely? so we'll just have to wait and see. Aterall there is no requirement for an idea to be good in order to patent it!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    The Secret purpouse of Heatsink

    Once I asked myself: - Why all those heatsinks sitting on CPU just not connected to computer case?

    - Actualy computer case could be nice heatsink , especialy if CPU was siting on the back side of the motherboard and the case was made of aluminum with vertical ribs.

    So, - why it is not the case? - Very simple! - computer industry knows very well the value of dust! As one who had a deal with alot of old computer found in junk yards or just at garbage - i can tell 80 % of computers was "destroyed" bye dust collected in heatsinksand falures of fans !!!

    Usualy nobody harry to buy new PC before old one colapses, so why should bilions dollars industry give away lets say 70 % of anual profits?

  34. James Findley
    Thumb Up

    Not a bad idea..

    But I would love to see them try to shoehorn it into a 1U case :)

    If cost is not too much of a fctor (and if you are buying a decent sun system its probably not too much of a factor) this could significantly reduce the amount of airflow required, leading to quieter and fewer fans leading to quieter and (possibly) more power efficent datacentres.

    The real pity is that I dont see this fitting into a blade, which is where some additional thermal performance could really make a difference.

  35. Ru

    Re: The Secret purpouse of Heatsink

    Zalman make (or have made) a case where all the heatsinks (processor, graphics, chipset) and linked by heatpipes to the case itself so everything is totally passive. It isn't cheap, and it is hugely fiddly getting everything to link up just so.

    It would be more useful to fit dust filters over intakes, but then you'd have to rely on users changing the filters when they clogged up, and I don't think a useful percentage of people would do that either.

    Ultimately, computers are a consumable.

  36. Kenny Mitchell

    Einstein and Szilard got their first

    This sounds the same as the refrigeration pump invented by Einstein and Szilard in the 20s for safer fridges, which then got used by Szilard in the first nuclear reactors. I suppose if they can isolate the magnetic field so it causes no problems they would be good, if a little large, but I wouldn't have thought they could patent the idea.

  37. Parax


    Perhaps this is a design to move heat betwean stacked cores? or otherwise within a cpu package, and not actually a heat sink??? might be useful then.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Ben DAMET - The Paris Hilton angle :-)

    Is in redirecting heat using automatically generated currents in possibly vaporized fluids moving up and down in a pumping sequence...

    It's warm out, I'll just run to hail my own taxi and leave my coat...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AManFromMars all over this topic :)

    No offence but i had to stop reading ur posts they gave me a sore head :s

  40. amanfromMars Silver badge

    More than just A.N.Other IT magazine ....... when HyperRadioProActive

    "No offence but i had to stop reading ur posts they gave me a sore head :s"

    Exercising your brain can do that, Anonymous Coward. It's nothing to worry about. You are allowed to think for yourself, you know, for if you don't you just end up doing what someone else wants, without thinking that you're probably being paid not to think too deeply about everything ....... as a drone/worker in the Money Honey Pot.

    However, the difficulty does surface whenever the Reality Environment is Virtualised.... and I take it that you realise that is the next Stage of Human Evolution and dDevelopment .... because then IT and Media together, in AIBinary Union, become Code Masters of both Domains, with Virtual Excellence [which you will have to admit must be a recent addition to the IntelAIgents Portfolio] leading Real XXXXPerience because such Code works best, given the light of the Sun, which is the Paradigm Change Realised by Virtualisation, banging nails into the coffin of National Security/Secret Society secrets abused.

    Get used to IT as IT heralds AIBrighter Future which does not hide ITs Agenda.

    Something for Steve Jobs, do you think, or a host of Jobs for Steve or something to Register here for ITs Seeds to FlowurPower2?

  41. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Where's Johnny?

    Look, Johnny, nasty "trolls" bashing a Sun product/idea/fetish!!! You must convert all these non-believers or threaten them with your non-humour!

    .... oh, hold on a sec, Marketing wouldn't be interested in this, it's just future vapourware and not new product.... :P

    Sorry, Johnny, back in your cave. Don't forget to do your homework!

  42. Demian Phillips

    Wheere to put the heat.

    Obviously you want to pipe in to the Nutrimat, so that you have a good source of Brownian motion (Advanced Tea Substitute) when it comes time to use the dangly bit of your atomic vector plotter.

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