KryoTech Cool K6-III 500MHz

How Cool Is This?

Introduction
It was with great excitement that I received the news that KryoTech was going to supply me with a sample of their Cool K6-III 500MHz barebones system. While the machine itself is near the end of it's production run (KryoTech is focusing it's efforts toward the new AMD K7 processor), it is nevertheless an impressive system.

Most of us are aware that new, high performance CMOS devices (CPUs, graphics chips, etc.) generate significantly more heat. This is a consequence of Moore's Law, named after Intel founder Dr. Gordon Moore. Moore's Law states that semiconductor transistor density, and hence performance, doubles roughly every 18 months. Dr. Moore made this bold prediction in the 1970s and history has proven him to be correct.

These hot chips continue to push the limits of traditional forced-air cooling. More advanced cooling techniques are needed. This is where KryoTech, Inc., a privately held spin-off from NCR Corporation, comes in. Founded in April 1996 by former executives and research engineers from NCR, the company's primary focus is thermal management, currently through a technology called vapor phase refrigeration.Vapor phase refrigeration provides a low cost, highly reliable means of cooling even the hottest CMOS devices.

Vapor phase refrigeration removes heat up to 50 times as effectively as traditional forced air and 5 times better than forced liquid cooling. This is because the refrigerant removes heat when it changes phase from a liquid to a gas. This process is known as latent heat of evaporation. Vapor phase refrigeration has been used for decades in home appliances and in many commercial cooling applications throughout the world. The technology has become increasingly important in high performance electronic systems with high thermal flux densities, where vapor phase refrigeration is less cumbersome and more effective than liquid cooling. Vapor phase refrigeration provides an exceptional solution to the most difficult thermal management challenges in current and future generation electronic systems.

CMOS devices run faster at lower temperatures. Scientists and engineers in the computer and semiconductor industries have known about this for many years. Since the formation of KryoTech, many companies, including IBM Corporation, Digital Equipment Corporation, Sun Microsystems, Advanced Micro Devices, Intel Corporation, and others have publicly demonstrated the benefits of thermally accelerated CMOS devices.

KryoTech's Cool Computing products  focus at -40C, the practical lower limit of commodity vapor phase refrigeration. The founders of KryoTech spent 4 years at NCR Corporation developing a set of system integration technologies centered on the mature technology and supply line infrastructure that has developed to support the worldwide white goods industry. Their work was launched in 1991 as a joint project between NCR and Intel known as the Cheetah Project. NCR developed a portfolio of patents and related technologies through this effort, which the founders of KryoTech subsequently licensed in 1996. Through their partnerships with MMR Technologies, Inc. and Intermagnetics General Corporation, and through a research grant from DARPA and the US Naval Research Lab, KryoTech is extending its cooling technology to lower temperatures -- where the performance of CMOS devices can double or even triple based on thermal acceleration, CMOS process modifications tuned for low temperatures, and CMOS designs optimized for low temperatures.

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