Why would Apple want to add liquid cooling to the iMac? That was the question on February 10 and it becomes the focus of several new Apple patent applications discovered today at the USPTO. The Mac community, for some reason, got hung up on Apple's old G5 Mac that was designed with large pipes etc, even though the patent clearly indicated it was about a mini-cooling system. To make this point crystal clear - you could download this four page PDF from Asetech that shows just how small cooling systems are getting. In today's patents, Apple mainly focuses on new thermoelectric cooling systems that could be built into a modified MacBook hinge system. Apple's patents attack the problem from different angles making it clear that Apple is searching and researching new ways to keep all of their future devices even cooler. Considering that Steve Jobs tried to change our perception of Apple in January by stating that they were the number one mobile device company in the world, it stands to reason why keeping mobile devices cool physically as well as esthetically is paramount.
As electronic components of various electronic devices (e.g., laptop computers) evolve into faster and more dynamic machines, their power requirements often consequently increase. With this increase in power consumption - an increase in power dissipation in the form of heat can result. For example, in a laptop computer, chipsets and microprocessors, such as central processing units ("CPUs") and graphics processing units ("GPUs"), are major sources of heat. Heat dissipation is an important consideration in the design of such electronic devices. If this heat is not adequately dissipated, the electronic components may fail and/or cause damage to the electronic device.
Accordingly, what is needed are methods and apparatus for cooling an electronic device.
Thermoelectric Cooling & Heating Dissipating Components
As shown in Apple's patent FIG. 1, electronic device 100 may include housing 101, processor 102, memory 104, motherboard 105, power supply 106, communications circuitry 108, bus 109, input component 110, output component 112, thermoelectric cooling component 116, and heat-dissipating component 118. Bus 109 may include one or more wired or wireless links that provide paths for transmitting data and/or power, to, from, or between various components of electronic device.
One or more heat-dissipating components could be provided to help dissipate or diffuse heat generated by the various electronic components of electronic device. One or more thermoelectric cooling components could be provided to create a temperature difference between the junctions of two materials for helping to dissipate heat generated by the various electronic components of the electronic device.
Each thermoelectric cooling component may be any component or components suitable to move heat from one surface or material to another surface or material. For example, each thermoelectric cooling component may take various forms, including, but not limited to, any solid-state cooling mechanism that uses the Peltier effect, such as a Peltier cooler, Peltier diode, Peltier heat pump, solid state refrigerator, thermoelectric cooler ("TEC"), or any other component that may transfer heat from one material to another material with the consumption of electrical energy, and any combinations thereof.
Power via Power Grid, Batteries or Solar Cells
In some embodiments, the power supply could be coupled to a power grid (e.g., when the device isn't a portable device, such as a desktop computer). In some embodiments, the power supply could include one or more batteries for providing power (e.g., when the device is a portable device, such as a cellular telephone or a laptop computer). As another example, the power supply could be configured to generate power from a natural source (e.g., solar power using solar cells).
New MacBook Cooling System Presented
Electronic components of electronic device may generate heat that can adversely affect the operation of the device. For example, in a laptop computer, chipsets and microprocessors, such as central processing units ("CPUs") and graphics processing units ("GPUs"), are major sources of heat. Heat dissipation is an important consideration in the design of such electronic devices. If this heat is not adequately dissipated, the electronic components may fail and/or cause damage to the electronic device.
In an alternative architecture, Apple illustrates that one of the next generation cooling systems that they're contemplating would be engineered right into the MacBook's hinge under the display.
According to Apple's cooling patents, the term "electronic device" explained in FIG. 1 could include but is not limited to, music players, video players, still image players, game players, other media players, music recorders, video recorders, cameras, other media recorders, radios, medical equipment, domestic appliances, transportation vehicle instruments, musical instruments, calculators, cellular telephones, other wireless communication devices, personal digital assistants, remote controls, pagers, computers (e.g., desktops, laptops, tablets, servers, etc.), monitors, televisions, stereo equipment, set up boxes, set-top boxes, boom boxes, modems, routers, keyboards, mice, speakers, printers, and combinations thereof.
The patent, being non-committal until patent figures 6A to 6D, for example, makes it difficult to state that FIGS 2 and 3 below are in fact classic notebooks. It could simply be the engineer's patent template used to display a generic notebook or it could be indicating that there's a new device that fits into one of the device noted above, in the making. Only time will tell if Apple's FIG.2 is actually indicating a new device like a Mini-MacBook, something else different altogether or simply a generic notebook.
Apple credits Ihab Ali as the sole inventor of patent applications 20100053885 and 20100050658 and is credited, along with Bernard Rihn for patent 20100053883 and Frank Liang on patent application 20100051243. All patents were originally filed in Q3 2008.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or grant should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on any patent reviewed here today, simply feed the individual patent number(s) noted in this report into this search engine.