Heat sink

The GPU or Graphics Processing Unit developers or individuals concerned with the gaming industry are much conversant with the term heatsink or heat sink, which can be conveniently spelled as the heatsink. The heat sink is defined as a passive heat exchanger.

The question arises here, what is a passive heat exchanger and why it is so important for GPU developers and/or manufacturers especially? Starting with a heat exchanger which is a system engaged or used to facilitate transferring heat between two or more fluids as shown in the image above, which can be utilized in both cooling and heating processes. It s to be noted that the fluids may be separated by a solid wall in order to prevent them mixed up or the fluids may be in contact indirectly. Now talking about its importance of heat sink or passive heat exchanger it is a fact that GPUs generate immense heat endangering their routine quality operation coming from the millions of calculations they have to complete every second by running electricity through the card, resulting in a decrease in performance at the cost of the card’s permanent heat damage.

Now coming to the heat sink or we call it a passive heat exchanger is a device engaged to transfer the heat which is generated by an electronic or a mechanical device to a fluid medium, in the form of air or a liquid coolant, so as to get heat dissipated away from an electronic or a mechanical device, to result in regulation of the device’s temperature at an acceptable level, following the principle higher temperature device to lower temperature cooling fluid medium. Heat sinks in computers are used to cool CPUs and GPUs besides cooling some chipsets and RAM modules, optoelectronics, that is, lasers and LEDs – light-emitting diodes, power transistors as well. The heat sink design is such that to ensure that its surface area comes in maximum contact with the corresponding cooling media in the case of air. The air velocity, choice of material, projection detailed design followed by effective surface treatment play an important role in the performance of a heat sink. Moreover, in the case of an integrated circuit, the heat sink attachment methods and thermal interface materials are the factors responsible for directly affecting the die temperature. Heat sink performance improvement is dependent on thermal adhesive or thermal paste which is commonly recognized as thermal interface material or TIM by getting TIM filled in air gaps between the heat sink, as well as the heat spreader on the device. Mind you, the material of construction of heat sink is usually aluminum or copper.

In electronic circuits or devices like CPUs and GPUs dissipation of heat is unavoidable resulting in heat damage unless adequate measures have been taken care of in the form of a heat sink. It becomes the duty of a thermal engineer to ensure

That overheating of the component does not happen by finding an efficient heat transfer path from the device to the environment in an effective manner, starting from the component to a PCB and/or Printed Circuit Board to a heat sink, which is well supported by services of a designed quality fan, to evacuate airflow towards the environment.

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