A four-year-old company is coming to market soon with an unexpected technology to cool CPUs and SoCs. Frore Systems has developed a cooling chip it calls AirJet that sits on top of a heat-generating chip and cools it without the need for mechanical fans. It’s 2.8mm thick and uses pulsating inlets to suck air into it and exhaust it out the sides. The company claims its “solid-state” cooling solution allows for double the CPU performance compared with using traditional methods. It’s secured $100 million in funding and is now partnering with Intel to bring its technology to the company’s Evo line of laptops.
The AirJet is designed to deal with the ever-shrinking nature of our electronic devices. As phones, tablets, and laptops get smaller, cooling them becomes more difficult. When insufficient cooling is applied, a CPU will throttle, lowering its clock speeds to reduce temps. This naturally results in decreased performance. Frore Systems claims its AirJet tackles this problem better than a fan, without taking much room inside the device. The heart of the issue is how long a CPU can maintain its maximum clock speed with peak power consumption.
CPUs typically have a “tau value” that indicates how long they can boost at maximum power consumption. This is known as the PL2 state, compared with PL1, which is stock power consumption. Once a CPU hits PL2, it can’t maintain that state forever unless there’s adequate cooling. For example, Intel’s Core i9-10900K CPUs can maintain tau for 56 seconds before throttling down. Frore Systems says with AirJet, the tau state can be maintained to infinity in some scenarios. This is how the company arrives at its claim of boosting CPU performance 2X. According to CEO Dr. Seshu Madhavapeddy in an interview with PCWorld, a 1.8GHz ARM processor with four AirJet Minis will be able to run at 3.5GHz “forever.” An AirJet Pro that’s made for x86 could run at PL1 at 2.1GHz instead of 1.4GHz with a fan. Additionally, the AirJet in a 15-inch laptop would produce just 29 dBA of sound, instead of 42 dBA with a fan.
The AirJet is still considered a heatsink, and it’s a solid-state device like any type of copper heatsink. However, they include membranes inside that vibrate at ultrasonic frequencies. This vibration sucks air into inlets at the top of the AirJet. Once inside the device, air is then transformed into “pulsating jets” as the air removes the heat from the heat spreader. It is eventually exhausted out of the sides via integrated spouts. From there, it’s up to the device maker to find a way to get the heat out of the system entirely.
For now, the company also is targeting slim, portable devices with its Mini product, including tablets, laptops, and VR headsets. The AirJet Mini looks like a credit card, and measures 41.5mm long by 27.5mm wide and 2.8mm thick. It can remove 5.25W of heat while consuming just 1W with a very quiet 21 dBA of noise. The AirJet Pro for x86 is a bit larger, naturally. It measures 71.5 mm by 31.5mm at the same 2.8mm thickness. It can exhaust 10.75W of heat while using just 1.75W.
Frore Systems has also begun working with Intel on an “engineering collaboration.” This means no money has exchanged hands, but Intel is using its vast resources to assist Frore in getting its product to market, which could happen in 2023. In return, the company has been giving Intel input on changes it could make to the CPU socket area on the motherboard to adopt the technology. It’s been giving Frore engineering targets to work with and invited the company’s members to its Bangalore facility for debugging work. Intel has also been giving Frore Systems guidance on how to work with other companies to integrate its products.
This concept sounds amazing, at least in theory. The founders of the company have seemingly come up with a clever solution to a big real-world problem. But like every other bit of new-generation technology that comes along with high hopes, we’ll be curious to see if it ever materializes in the real world. Maybe one day we’ll have an AirJet Ultra Extreme attached to our single-slot RTX 5090.