An innovative new cooling solution could lead to the demise of the laptop fan, if it really is as effective as its creators suggest. San Jose-based firm Frore Systems (opens in new tab) have developed a revolutionary new ‘cooling chip’ that could be implemented to provided superior – and near-silent – cooling for everything from the best ultrabooks to even the best VR headset.
This isn’t passive cooling, either; despite the lack of fans, these chips (dubbed the ‘AirJet’) provide active airflow by vibrating super-thin membranes inside the chip at ultrasonic frequencies to generate jets of air. The name is nothing if not appropriate.
This process provides cooling by sucking colder air in through small vents on the upper surface of the chip, then blasting it through a narrow chamber on the underside, where it comes into contact with a heat spreader plate. The spreader absorbs heat from the component being cooled (for example, the copper heat pipes found connected to most laptop processors) and dissipates it via the AirJet’s internal airflow, venting warm waste air from one end of the chip.
One small step for laptop fans
Even the very best laptops can have problems with fan drone when under heavy load (barring, of course, the iconic fanless MacBook Air), and Frore System’s solution could supposedly eliminate the problem entirely.
The technology – which comes in two flavors, the AirJet Mini and the larger but more powerful AirJet Pro – is claimed to outperform conventional laptop fans significantly due to the massively increased air pressure generated by the tiny chamber inside the 2.8mm-thick chip.
According to its creators, the AirJet function at 21 dBA. That’s quieter than a human whisper, approaching the lower echelons of human hearing; for reference, the average laptop fan sits above 40 dBA, while normal speech sits at around 65 dBA. The chip also requires only a tiny amount of power, just a single Watt for the AirJet Mini.
Frore Systems also claims to have fitted a passively-cooled Arm-based notebook with four AirJet Mini units, and found that the processor could run at its full turbo frequency without issue – while using the existing passive cooling system resulted in frequent throttling down to a lower frequency.
Frore System is currently working with Intel and its laptop partners to (hopefully) deliver a new laptop using AirJet cooling by the end of 2023, but don’t get too excited; this is fledgling technology, and CNX Software (opens in new tab) noted that Frore has previously said that tech this advanced will come with ‘competitive’ pricing, so we can probably expect it to show up exclusively in high-end devices first.