Cooling The Atom

Intel has come up with an official name for its Silverthorne-era products:


Cute name, at least until the elements get a lawyer and file a class action for trademark infringement :).

Seriously, what is most interesting about Atom is not its name but its size.

As Intel’s press release duly noted, “Atom measures less than 25 mm².” That’s easily the tiniest x86 processor ever built, only about a quarter of the size of the smaller single-core “regular” CPUs.

That raises an interesting point; how do we cool something that small.

You noticed I didn’t say “how do you cool something that small.” The Atoms will chew up little power, and at default speeds will no doubt initially use heat spreaders and passive cooling.

However, sooner or later, overclocking will pop its head into the picture, and while cooling an overclocked CPU pumping out maybe five watts may seem at first glance to be a laughably simple procedure, keep in mind that this is a tinyprocessor operating in a tinydevice with tinypower and tinyspace to work with.

This is going to take tinycooling, and will present a whole new set of challenges (and, hint, hint opportunities) in the years ahead.


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