“Red Blizzard,” from VisionMan.com,

Red Blizzard lays claim to being the first water-cooled computer available for under $1000. Instead of using a heat sink and fan for cooling the CPU, it uses running water.

Water-cooled computers have been around for a few years but previously cost two thousand dollars and more. They are popular with gamers, who like to use over-clocked central processors to provide fast action and ultra smooth graphics. Over-clocked processors are chips pushed to run several times the number of cycles per second recommended by the manufacturer. This works but generates a lot of heat, which will eventually break down the processor. But that’s life in the fast lane.

Water cooling can absorb 4,000 times as much heat as air cooling. According to Thomas Brunschwiler, a researcher at IBM’s laboratory in Switzerland, water-cooling is the next step in building high-powered computers. The trend will be to stack computer chips on top of each other, shortening and improving communication between them.

Without special cooling, however, such a stack would generate enough heat to melt the chips themselves, even though the meting point of silicon is close to 2,600 degrees Farenheit, 1,440 degrees Celsius. Brunschwiler and others have been experimenting with water-cooling stacked chips. Water is pumped through a network of channels, each about the width of a human hair, that run between the layers of the stacked chips. (Coming soon to the computer near you: A River Runs Through It.)

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