A startup called Frore Systems has begun showing off a new AirJet cooling system for laptops that could dissipate more heat than a spinning fan and heat-pipe system while taking up less space and generating less noise.
The company says the technology could allow PC makers to build thinner, quieter laptops that offer better sustained performance than models with more traditional cooling. The first products with AirJet cooling could arrive sometime this year.
In a nutshell, AirJet modules are “solid state thermal solution” that provide active cooling without the use of a fan. Instead, there are “tiny membranes that vibrate at ultrasonic frequency” to draw air in through vents on top of the module and flush them out through vents on the sides in “high velocity pulsating jets” of air.
This allows heat generated by a CPU, GPU, or other chips to be quickly dissipated and pushed out the sides of a notebook via vents.
Because AirJet modules take up less space than a fan, they can be used in notebooks measuring as little as 11mm (0.43 inches) thick. Up until now most laptops that thin would have been fanless. And because of the way heat is moved, Frore CEO Seshu Madhavapeddy told PC World recently that it’s possible to offer active cooling in laptops with vents only on the sides and not the bottom (allowing them to perform just as well when placed on your lap or on a bed or pillow as they do on a table or desk).
Ultimately, the promise isn’t just that computers with active cooling could be as thin and light as fanless computers (and almost as quiet, since AirJet cooling generates just 21 to 24 dBA of noise). It’s that the technology offers enough cooling performance to allow CPUs to run at higher speeds for longer periods without throttling, which could make a big difference in sustained performance.
Frore has developed two versions of its AirJet modules so far. The AirJet Mini is a 41.5 x 27.5 x 2.8mm module that can dissipate up to 5.25 watts of heat (while consuming about 1 watts of power), while the AirJet Pro is a 71.5 x 31.5 x 2.8mm module that offers up to 10.5 watts of cooling (with power consumption of up to 1.75 watts).
You’d need two to three AirJet Pro modules for a typical laptop with up to a 28 watt processor, while three or four AirJet Mini modules should be able to cool a laptop with an ARM-based chip or lower-power x86 processor.
Of course, AirJet technology isn’t a drop-in replacement for a fan, so PC makers will have to design new hardware to take advantage of the system with updated motherboards, ventilation, and other cooling features designed to work with AirJet modules (such as vapor chambers).
So while Frore says it’s working with manufacturers on new products that could launch as earlier as this year, I suspect that it could be a while before AirJet cooling becomes as common as spinning fans.
via PC World