An Israeli company at Comdex showed off an inexpensive prospective answer to the problem of CPU heat control: a user-installable thermoelectric heat pump that leads to quieter system operation.
The AC4G cooling system from Active Cool is said to maintain CPU temperatures at 26 degrees Celsius, even during processor-intensive operations, and results in significantly lower CPU fan noise. The company claims that users can install the US$120 product in less than 90 seconds in any PC that uses at least an Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon processor.
Taiwanese manufacturer Thermal Take Technology will begin marketing it in the US in January.
The AC4G product consists of two major parts: a power supply and the cooling unit itself, which is topped by a small fan. The power supply plugs into an open PCI slot. An external plug supplies current, while a smaller plug connects to the cooling unit. A microprocessor in the power supply receives input from both ambient temperature and CPU temperature sensors. The microprocessor samples temperatures and adjusts the cooling power of the thermoelectric unit and of the CPU fan atop the cooling device. It can also power a separate case fan if desired.
The cooling unit consists of a cold plate, a high-power custom thermoelectric unit, a heat sink, and a fan. The cold plate sits directly on the CPU, while the thermoelectric unit pumps heat from the cold plate to the heat sink. The CPU fan draws off heat that accumulates in the heat sink.
Because the thermoelectric unit is doing most of the cooling work in the system, the CPU fan typically runs at half-power, drastically reducing noise.