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Apple looking to improve cooling efficiency in future Macs

post #1 of 41
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A number of Apple patent applications revealed this week show a variety of methods to ensure that future portable devices operate at an acceptable temperature.

As computers become faster and more powerful, power consumption and heat generation can also become greater. Four Apple patent applications unveiled this week, and filed for on Sept. 29, 2008, aim to address those issues.

"Heat dissipation is an important consideration in the design of such electronic devices," Apple's applications read. "If this heat is not adequately dissipated, the electronic components may fail and/or cause damage to the electronic device."

The first application, entitled "Methods and Apparatus for Cooling Electronic Devices Using Flow Sensors," would detect the flow of air through a portable device, such as a MacBook Pro. Such a device could detect the velocity of airflow, or a change in that velocity, and make adjustments to the system accordingly.

Based on the airflow of the device, the system could adjust fan speeds or computing power to ensure the device does not overheat.

The second application, entitled "Methods and Apparatus for Cooling Electronic Devices Through User Interfaces," would use open ports on the sides of a computer to increase airflow. Input/output ports such as USB, Ethernet and FireWire would be used to increase the flow of air into the device.

Additionally, a system could be designed so that the ports were positioned for ideal cooling of the hardware.

The third application, "Methods and Apparatus for Cooling Electronic Devices Using Conductive Hinge Assemblies," describes a hinge that would connect to an electronic component and a second housing intended to cool the computer part. The hinge would be configured to dissipate heat by transferring the heat generated by the electronic component to the second housing.

That second housing could include a heat spreader that would allow it to more efficiently dissipate the heat and cool the device.



Finally, "Methods and Apparatus for Cooling Electronic Devices using Thermoelectric Cooling Components" describes a method of cooling that would employ the "Peltier effect." Named for French physicist Jean-Charles Peltier, the effect defines when an electrical current runs through the junction of two different metals. When electrons flow from a region of high density to a lower one, it allows them to cool.

The application describes a "solid-state cooling mechanism" that would employ two sides to transfer heat away from the machine and help dissipate it.

"A current may be applied across a portion of thermoelectric cooling component such that heat may be transported away from first surface... to second surface of thermoelectric cooling component," the application reads. "For example, when a current of 100 milliamperes is applied across a portion of thermoelectric cooling component (it) may create a temperature difference in the range of between 5 Celsius and 10 Celsius between first surface and second surface."
post #2 of 41
Quote:
"Finally, "Methods and Apparatus for Cooling Electronic Devices using Thermoelectric Cooling Components" describes a method of cooling that would employ the "Peltier effect." Named for French physicist Jean-Charles Peltier, the effect defines when an electrical current runs through the junction of two different metals. When electrons flow from a region of high density to a lower one, it allows them to cool."

That's pretty cool. Especially with the ipad coming out. Is this an improvement over the fans (in terms of batter life) or is this just a way to get rid of the fans and make the device smaller. Since it is showing as a notebook patent it seems like its an extra cooling for the laptop, but obviously iPods and iPads would need this a lot more then a notebook.
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post #3 of 41
See now I was under the impression that Apple was not looking to improve cooling efficiency at some point, some time.

Learn something new every day.
post #4 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

See now I was under the impression that Apple was not looking to improve cooling efficiency at some point, some time.

Learn something new every day.

Yeah. I learned about thermocouples ages ago as a temperature sensor, but never even thought about applying a current to use this as a method of cooling. I wonder about the power efficiency of Peltier cooling vs traditional fan/air flow cooling? Obviously this is much more practical in compact electronics such as the iPad or iPhone, but is a fan more efficient in something slightly larger like a MBP?
post #5 of 41
15 key laptop? Nice!

No more mentions on a liquid cooling system then?
post #6 of 41
You can learn more about the Peltier Effect by going to

http://www.heatsink-guide.com/peltier.htm

Makes sense to look into methods of cooling future MBP and other Macs because heat will become more of a problem as processors become more powerful and produce more heat. From what I read, it may be possible to actually integrate a Peltier device into a processor.
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post #7 of 41
A previous Apple patent on cooling had a waterproof layer between the keyboard and internals that allowed the flow of air but not liquids. Is there anything viable about such technology today?
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post #8 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmz View Post

See now I was under the impression that Apple was not looking to improve cooling efficiency at some point, some time.

Learn something new every day.

it's shocking!
post #9 of 41
This is nice and all but how about releasing the new MBPs.
post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by t0mt0m View Post

15 key laptop? Nice!

No more mentions on a liquid cooling system then?

Why does one need a liquid cooling when the entire case is aluminum which is an excellent heat conductor.

The little radiator cooler inside the laptops is nice but bleed some of the heat into the whole bottom case or top screen case. It will warm slightly but provide a vary large surface to allow heat to disipate.


Just a thought. And if your plugged into a power outlet, there is plenty of power to do thermoelectric cooling.

en
post #11 of 41
Very nice indeed apple, now I could save some money off that sperm bank to get a new mbp since my sperm with be virile and not damaged anymore by that laptop heat.

Interesting patent aps btw, hadn't heard of the peltier effect, and in my diagonal reading of the article I don't think I understood who it works really.
post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A number of Apple patent applications revealed this week show a variety of methods to ensure that future portable devices operate at an acceptable temperature.

.

Is this why current MacBooks cannot be configured to remain running with the lid closed? Are they prone to overheat?
post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by eldernorm View Post

Just a thought. And if your plugged into a power outlet, there is plenty of power to do thermoelectric cooling.

en

interesting...how would that work?
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

A previous Apple patent on cooling had a waterproof layer between the keyboard and internals that allowed the flow of air but not liquids. Is there anything viable about such technology today?

I actually heard about a fabric that basically didn't get wet, similar to what you are talking about. The fabric seemed to trap air molecules on it's surface effectively preventing fluids from actually coming into contact with the material, or some such non-sense. Sounded pretty cool though.
post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

That's pretty cool. Especially with the ipad coming out. Is this an improvement over the fans (in terms of batter life) or is this just a way to get rid of the fans and make the device smaller. Since it is showing as a notebook patent it seems like its an extra cooling for the laptop, but obviously iPods and iPads would need this a lot more then a notebook.

The Peltier effect is a way of using electricity to pump heat from one location to another. It is hugely inefficient compared to mechanical fans and wouldn't help battery life at all, but is completely solid state and can fit into any size or shape package.

(The Peltier effect's converse operation is called the Seebeck effect and it's a way of turning heat differentials into electricity. In theory, if you had an iPhone that was cooled by Peltier it could recharge by the difference in temperature between your leg and the outside air, but again the Seebeck effect is very inefficient and you wouldn't get much juice from it.)
post #16 of 41
Hopefully the experimental technology converting heat into electricity will develop into a usable form.
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post #17 of 41
Lawsuit in making!
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post #18 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by svnipp View Post

Yeah. I learned about thermocouples ages ago as a temperature sensor, but never even thought about applying a current to use this as a method of cooling.

There is nothing novel about this method. It has been known for a hundred years.
post #19 of 41
That's really cool.
My PowerBook runs pretty hot, but that's because I assume it's working right and cooling the insides.
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post #20 of 41
Apple can actually get patents for technology as obvious as this?

I have an idea about encoding data using just ones and zeros. Maybe I should patent it.
post #21 of 41
Well.....i hope they do it soon as im getting temperatures of over 80 degrees on my mbp...
post #22 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by OnePotato View Post

Apple can actually get patents for technology as obvious as this?

I have an idea about encoding data using just ones and zeros. Maybe I should patent it.

Getting a patent and have absolute rights to a technology are different. The patent office isn't verifying actual rights, that is for the courts.

Your "idea" could be patentable and even be profitable, it just depends how you encode these ones and zeros.
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post #23 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

A previous Apple patent on cooling had a waterproof layer between the keyboard and internals that allowed the flow of air but not liquids. Is there anything viable about such technology today?

Perhaps Steve Jobs thinks the licensing fees for Gore-Tex® are a "big bag of pain."

post #24 of 41
I think they should find a way to transfer all the heat to the display cover. If you make this one slightly higher and rip it, you could get a big passive cooling unit. The benefit would be a very quiet cooling (aid at the very least) and you heat up a part for a change that nobody cares about. Nobody wants the palmrests to serve as passive cooling heatsinks or the bottom of the notebook.
All the have to figure out is how to transfer heat fast over something that allows bending. Or you'd have to move the hot parts into the screen lid.
This also depends off course on how much of a problem the heat might be for the display panel.

BTW I think the problem is not that the Internals get hotter. They don't. The problem is the Notebooks get slimmer and should still cool everything sufficiently at a very low noise level.
post #25 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

Perhaps Steve Jobs thinks the licensing fees for Gore-Tex® are a "big bag of pain."


If you insist on quoting, at least get it right. ...."bag of hurt", not bag of pain. SoKay?
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post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGenius View Post

.

Is this why current MacBooks cannot be configured to remain running with the lid closed? Are they prone to overheat?

What exactly do you mean?
I use my MBP 13" 99% of the time with the lid closed and hooked up to a 24" screen. It doesn't run hot, but then again, I *always* have it sit on a cooling pad with fans.

Funny thing, if I place something (even a small stack of paper) on the closed lid, it does get hot!
post #27 of 41
I don't know if anyone else has noticed this but Mac OS X tends to run about 10 Degress C hotter than windows for me. On my macbook OS X idles roughly around 40 C where as on a windows partition it runs about 30 C idle. I thought this was a bit strange but i got the same results on a mac mini and on a Hackintosh with an AMD CPU.
post #28 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by iGenius View Post

.

Is this why current MacBooks cannot be configured to remain running with the lid closed? Are they prone to overheat?

Can't you?

On my old MBP I was able to connect an external display and keyboard, then close the laptop's lid and wake it up with the external keyboard. Worked very well for everyday things but if you're encoding a video remember to open it again as it'll get very, very hot!
post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcbeav View Post

I don't know if anyone else has noticed this but Mac OS X tends to run about 10 Degress C hotter than windows for me. On my macbook OS X idles roughly around 40 C where as on a windows partition it runs about 30 C idle. I thought this was a bit strange but i got the same results on a mac mini and on a Hackintosh with an AMD CPU.

This is also the case on my hackintosh (running Apple's native CPU power management) I get idle temps of about 35 degrees. On Windows I get about 19 degrees idle. This is partly because Windows clocks my CPU down to 1.6GHz when idle.
post #30 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcbeav View Post

I don't know if anyone else has noticed this but Mac OS X tends to run about 10 Degress C hotter than windows for me. On my macbook OS X idles roughly around 40 C where as on a windows partition it runs about 30 C idle. I thought this was a bit strange but i got the same results on a mac mini and on a Hackintosh with an AMD CPU.

Were the fan speeds the same? It might just be a case of OSX not ramping up fan speeds as quickly as Windows. Apple seems to like keeping things as quiet as possible until the heat actually becomes a problem. Of course there are programs that allow you to control fan speed yourself if you don't like how OSX is managing it.
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post #31 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcbeav View Post

I don't know if anyone else has noticed this but Mac OS X tends to run about 10 Degress C hotter than windows for me. On my macbook OS X idles roughly around 40 C where as on a windows partition it runs about 30 C idle. I thought this was a bit strange but i got the same results on a mac mini and on a Hackintosh with an AMD CPU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post

Were the fan speeds the same? It might just be a case of OSX not ramping up fan speeds as quickly as Windows. Apple seems to like keeping things as quiet as possible until the heat actually becomes a problem. Of course there are programs that allow you to control fan speed yourself if you don't like how OSX is managing it.

Heat has not been a problem on my 17" ub/MBP w/ SSD. Could be that it runs cooler with a SSD than it would if it had a HDD. I was planning to purchase a cooling bar that sales for $40, but my daughter suggested using those rubber door stops to elevate the bottom so there is greater airflow and hence better heat dissipation. For $1.29 for a pair, best investment I've made. Runs cooler, but as stated, heat was never a problem. Haven't noticed any temperature difference between running OS X or Windows on the MBP. You really can't tell when data is being accessed from or stored to a SSD.
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post #32 of 41
Peltier coolers can use a lot of current.

Also, you have to understand the full implications of a "temperature difference" between two sides. One side can become quite cold, but the other side will become that much hotter. What do you do with that heat? You actually create even more heat than what you started with since you're basically putting in a lot of energy in order to manage the heat you're trying to get rid of.

The advantage is, however, that you can have more control the heat from the Peltier more easily, perhaps. But again, it can use a lot of power, so I'm not sure how it would end up being used in a laptop.

I think that their consideration of ports and their effect on airflow is smart though.
post #33 of 41
Now if they would only apply this technology to the ATV. Anyone need a fried egg?
post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by OnePotato View Post

Apple can actually get patents for technology as obvious as this?

I have an idea about encoding data using just ones and zeros. Maybe I should patent it.

Thermoelectric cooling with TC type junctions has been known for years so I have to wonder what Apple could be adding to the technology base to even justify the effort of a patent application. There just seems to be to many prexisting examples of this tech to make the application sucessful.

As to the other patents they are more interesting but I still have to wonder about the one that uses the lid. The question is how are they moving the thermal energy there. About the only possible way would be via a liquid. That of course leads to reliability problems. Right now though I do not know of another way of moving heat through a hinge. A hinge by the way is an extremely poor heat transfer device on it's own.


Dave
post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

The Peltier effect is a way of using electricity to pump heat from one location to another. It is hugely inefficient compared to mechanical fans and wouldn't help battery life at all, but is completely solid state and can fit into any size or shape package.

(The Peltier effect's converse operation is called the Seebeck effect and it's a way of turning heat differentials into electricity. In theory, if you had an iPhone that was cooled by Peltier it could recharge by the difference in temperature between your leg and the outside air, but again the Seebeck effect is very inefficient and you wouldn't get much juice from it.)

Thanks a bunch for explaining.
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post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

Perhaps Steve Jobs thinks the licensing fees for Gore-Tex® are a "big bag of pain."


Gore-Tex has a whole division devoted to the electronics industry. They focus on materials and interconnects. So it is not impossible that Apple simply patented the usage of a material the Gore would supply.


Dave
post #37 of 41
Flash is the number one reason for hot Macbooks.
post #38 of 41
These patents that the PTO are granting are really becoming entirely asinine.

The USB one seems to be patenting the concept of cooling a computer wherever you can find a hole for airflow. I think I'd do the same thing for houses and call it a window.

The second regarding bimetals is ancient and has been in use for decades if not longer. So has ion cooling.

Why doesn't the PTO grand Apple a patent on water next.
post #39 of 41
So where can I buy one of these laptops or other devices with Peltier cooling?

I'd like to buy one.

Link me please.

Quote:
Originally Posted by klamerus View Post

These patents that the PTO are granting are really becoming entirely asinine.

The USB one seems to be patenting the concept of cooling a computer wherever you can find a hole for airflow. I think I'd do the same thing for houses and call it a window.

The second regarding bimetals is ancient and has been in use for decades if not longer. So has ion cooling.

Why doesn't the PTO grand Apple a patent on water next.
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post #40 of 41
It's about damned time. The current crop of laptops will get into the 90C range, sometimes breaking 100C under load. That's beyond ridiculous. That Apple could even release laptops that run so hot blows my mind. Then again, Jobs would rather sell quiet laptops that slow roast themselves than sell one that's just a little noisier.
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