According to a new paper released at the IEEE Semi-Therm conference, IBM has discovered a way to dramatically improve processor cooling. Unlike some other recent cooling breakthroughs, IBM's discovery appears to be one that should be relatively inexpensive to implement, and could have a significant impact on consumer microprocessors in the near future. Without fundamentally changing the approach to CPU cooling today and without the use of more advanced setups like water coolers, IBM says that they can double CPU cooling capacity while making it easier and safer to do so.
IBM's find addresses how thermal paste is typically spread between the face of a chip and the heat spreader that sits directly over the core. Overclockers already know how crucial it is to apply thermal paste the right way: too much, and it causes heat buildup. Too little, and it causes heat buildup. It has to be "just right," which is why IBM looked to find the best way to get the gooey stuff where it needs to be and in the right amount, and to make it significantly more efficient in the process.
A CPU's heatspreader is normally attached directly to the core by use of a paste or glue that has been enriched with micrometer-sized ceramic or metal particles. These particles then form heat-evacuation bridges between the core and the cooler, and it's these bridges that carry heat into the heatspreader.