Briefs: Chip cooling innovations

IBM researchers demonstrated a prototype that integrates a computer chip cooling system into 3-dimensional stacks by piping water directly between each layer in a chip stack. These so-called 3D chip stacks, which take chips and memory devices that traditionally sit side-by-side on a silicone wafer and instead stacks them on top of one another, presents a very promising approach to enhancing chip performance beyond its predicted limits. 3D chip stacks would have an aggregated heat dissipation of about 1 kW, 10 times greater than the heat generated by a hotplate, within an area of just 4 cm2 and a thickness of only 1 mm. Each layer also poses an additional barrier to heat removal, which is vital to electronic efficiency. IBM researchers piped water into cooling structures as thin as a human hair (50 microns) between the individual chip layers in order to remove the heat at the source. They were able to demonstrate a cooling performance of up to 180 W/cm2 per layer with a typical footprint of 4 cm2.