Typically, a fast food point-of-sale (POS) unit or cash register uses a conventional cooling fan to keep the temperature of the hardware below 105F (41C). These fans work well in cooling, but as they circulate the air, they pull in grease, liquids, smoke and other particles that can cause the system to fail. To eliminate the external fan IBM installed a water-filled pipe, which conducts heat away from the processor and then vents it to the outside environment.
Each IBM SurePOS 500 unit has its own logic board or planar, which not only contains the processor and other typical computer circuitry, but also a cooling chamber and a water-filled pipe. In the planar chamber, a heat sink sits above the processor. Attached to the heat sink is a water filled pipe that exits the planar chamber and enters the cooling chamber. A slow-moving internal fan draws air into the cooling chamber, and blows it across the fins of the larger heat sink cooling the water.
The heat sink wicks heat away from the processor and the water carries the heat into the cooling chamber where the water is circulated through a larger heat sink (cooling-pipe).
Currently, IBM is using this technology in specially designed IBM ThinkPads and in the SurePOS 500 line. But because this is a universal problem, industries such as manufacturing could benefit from the cooling-pipe when it comes to computers that sit on the plant floor.
Chris Wong, IBM Corp., 5601 Six Forks Rd., Raleigh, NC 27609; Tel: (919) 301-5942.
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