Heat is bad for computers, and the newest bunch of cutting-edge CPUs coming off the assembly lines are some of the hottest ever made. These kinds of trends can’t last much longer, and everyone in Silicon Valley knows it. Luckily, some of the best chipmakers in the world are already testing a wide range of materials that could greatly lower working temperatures.
Diamond Foundry in San Francisco, which makes lab-grown fake gems, is in the lead. The company has made hundreds of fake diamond plates that are four inches wide and less than three millimeters thick. The plan is to add a layer of fake diamond, which is very good at moving heat, over some of the silicon that isn’t being used in a regular computer.
Diamond Foundry CEO Martin Roscheisen told The Wall Street Journal that chips made with their synthetic diamond wafer can work at least twice as fast as their rated clock speed without breaking. One of Nvidia’s most powerful chips is said to have been able to run at three times its base clock by company workers in the lab.
Roscheisen said that Diamond Foundry is in talks with top chipmakers, automakers, and defense companies about how they can help make chips and electronics better. Roscheisen also said that the fact that the cost of making fake diamonds is going down is important for further research into this area.
Diamond Foundry isn’t the only company in town that makes different chip substrates. One company, Coherent, makes polycrystalline diamond plates, and another, Element Six, sells bigger pieces that can be put between chips and heatsinks.
Intel showed off a glass base for next-generation packaging in September. The company had been working on it for more than ten years. Glass has better thermal, physical, and optical qualities than current biological surfaces. This means that the number of connections can be up to 10 times higher. Glass is also 50 percent less likely to warp patterns and is flatter, which makes depth of focus better for printing.