IBM Creates Mini Water Pipes to Cool Down Mini Processing Chips

Dennis Faas's picture

The competition between microprocessing developers has reached new heights, as each attempt to cram the most power into the tiniest possible space.  IBM is looking to cool down their vertically-stacked chips by using one of the most abundant and natural sources on earth: water.

The company is certain that water would be a much more efficient source than air at absorbing heat, even if the amount of water being used is minute.

One potential danger associated with downsizing chips is that the circuits in these processors, although miniature in size, still generate a considerable amount of heat. Their small size only makes them harder to manage in case of an emergency (like a meltdown).

While chip meltdowns are not uncommon for microprocessing companies, many fear that the cooling measures used to avoid meltdowns in normal-sized chips might not work in smaller-sized models.

But how severe can small-scale chip meltdowns be?

Analysts have reported that IBM is currently pursuing a future concept that attempts to conserve even more space by stacking chips on top of one another rather than using the traditional side-by-side model. The result could cause a heat-to-volume ratio that would exceed that of a nuclear reactor! (Source:

The company believes that they have the ability to manufacture water pipes that are only 50 microns wide (50 millionths of a meter) and insert them in the near-invisible space between the vertically-stacked chips. (Source:

Not only are the pipers full-functioning, they are also wrapped in a special coating that seals in water and prevents leaks and electrical shortages.

While IBM is not the first to think of water as a cooling source for their chips, they are the first to pursue the idea towards commercialization.

The company expects that the first batch of microprocessors using the small-scale water pipes will not be available for at least another five years.

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