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Coldplates are designed as part of a liquid cooling system for high heat density electronic equipment. As heat dissipation levels increase, standard methods of cooling involving air become inadequate. In order to achieve acceptable levels of performance at the IC level, liquid cooling systems are being used in increasing number of applications. Liquid cooling systems will generally include a coldplate (to collect heat from the heat source), a pump (to circulate the cooling fluid), and a heat exchanger (where the heat is removed). There are a number of different types of coldplates that are available depending on the application of interest. Coldplates can be tubed, drilled, brazed, sintered or other.










Due to increasingly higher heat fluxes generated at the IC level, coldplate designs are now more advanced and achieve significantly higher heat transfer coefficients using micro-channels and impingement techniques. The higher thermal performance of the coldplate is usually accompanied with higher coldplate pressure drop. As a result, the design of the liquid cooling system must include a pump that is capable of delivering an adequate amount of cooling fluid at the appropriate pressure drop. Since many electronics applications require small form factors, the pump must be small in size while being capable of providing the correct flow and pressure.











TDMG has performed analysis and evaluation for various coldplate types. The following example demonstrates the performance of a CPU coldplate used for High Performance Computing application. The application in question required thermal impedance in the range of 0.2 C/W at an ambient of 40  Deg C for the system. In order to achieve this, the coldplate was designed with crosscut (diamond shape) fins that yielded an overall system performance well within specification requirements. The coldplate pressure drop was limited to 0.125 psi per coldplate, which allowed the pump to provide up to approximately 1 liter per minute in a dimensional envelope of  1.6” (< 1U height) when the complete system operating.


Various types of coldplate designs were investigated, and the latter (diamond shape) was deemed the best design based on performance versus cost implications. Other coldplate designs investigated included micro-channels. Although these would have provided an increase in thermal performance at the coldplate level, the significant increase in pressure drop would have meant that the pumps would not have been capable of providing the required flow to achieve that thermal performance. In addition, the increased cost would have been significant and rendered the micro-channel design expensive by comparison. The choice of coldplate design is application dependent and perhaps for other applications, a micro-channel design (or other) might have been the correct choice. In the case of this application a more simplistic design yielded the required performance at a lower price.










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