The idea of using a semiconductor to cool other hot-running semiconductors might at first sound counterintuitive, but this device is no ordinary chip. Frore, a recent startup company, has unveiled a solid-state chip for active device cooling.
Called AirJet, the chip cools devices with breakthrough technology that the company says delivering a 2x improvement in performance, while operating silently. AirJet’s compact size and unique capabilities will enable faster, quieter, thinner, lighter, and dust-proof devices.
Today’s PCs and other electronics devices face an age-old problem: controlling heat from processors that run hotter as their speeds increase. Existing solutions, such as mechanical fans, are inadequate. Thus, manufacturers have designed fail-safe functionality that prevents overheating by slowing down the processor after only a few seconds of operation. This means consumers never really get the full processor performance they pay for.
Enter Frore Systems. With the help of $100 million in funding from leading investors including Mayfield, Addition, Clear Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures, the company, based in San Jose, Calif., has spent the last four years developing the AirJet Chip to combat the heat issue.
Jet Air Impingement
The chip utilizes a patented multi-physics design that converges structural, fluidic, acoustic, and electrical resonance. It uses the principles of jet air impingement, which is utilized in cooling large jet engines to remove localized heat from processors, according to Dr. Seshu Madhavapeddy, founder and CEO of Frore Systems. To help achieve this, the chip is constructed with a vibrating ultrasonic membrane that relies on the piezoelectric effect to generate airflow.
“The vibrating membrane create a huge suction force that draws in ambient air through intake slots and moves hot air out side exhausts,” Madhavapeddy said.
Frore Systems has developed first two active cooling chips, AirJet Mini and AirJet Pro. The AirJet Mini is 2.8 mm thick, 27.5 mm x 41.5 mm in size, and weighs just 11 grams. The AirJet Pro is the same thickness and approximately twice the size and weight. AirJet chips are scalable, meaning that multiple chips can be easily integrated into devices to cool processors silently, resulting in major performance gains.
Frore conducted case studies with the chip on two notebooks, one an ARM-based notebook with a 13-in. screen and measuring 11 mm thick, the other An X86 processor-based 12-mm thick notebook with a 15-in. screen. According to the company, the ARM-based notebook was able to achieve twice the processor performance using four of AirJet Mini chips, while the X86 notebook saw a 1.5 X improvement in processor performance using three AirJet Pro chips.
Acccording to Madhavapeddy, the AirJet chips can either be mounted next to the processor or even atop it, depending on design needs.
To build the chips, Frore Systems has built a fab in Taiwan that will borrow technology and process techniques from display, aerospace, and automotive manufacturing. The company has started shipping samples of the AirJet Mini, and will begin shipping the AirJet Pro the first quarter of 2023.
Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News covering the electronics beat. He has many years of experience covering developments in components, semiconductors, subsystems, power, and other facets of electronics from both a business/supply-chain and technology perspective. He can be reached at [email protected]