(Image Credit: gamers Nexus)
AMD, renowned for its high-performance processors, ventured into an ambitious experiment with CPU vapor chambers during the development of its Ryzen 7000 series. The idea was to incorporate a concealed vapor chamber into the heatspreader of Zen4 processors, thereby enhancing cooling performance. The ground-breaking endeavor, however, could have hit better, according to a recent disclosure from Gamers Nexus following their visit to AMD's thermal labs.
The Technology Behind The Design
The vapor chamber technology leverages the process of phase change for effective heat transfer. This method is commonly seen in modern graphics cards. It uses a small amount of liquid, usually water or a coolant, which evaporates and absorbs heat when the processor heats up. The vapor then moves to the cooler parts of the chamber, condensing back into a liquid and releasing the absorbed heat.
AMD's unique approach to implementing this technology into the prototype Ryzen 7000 CPUs was inventive. They utilized a porous chamber for the coolant's vaporization, promoting an efficient and continual heat transfer cycle. This innovative design, potentially a game-changer, was something special.
Stumbling Blocks in The Experiment
Despite the brilliance of the vapor chamber design, AMD had to confront the realities of manufacturing costs and efficiency. The complexities associated with the vapor chamber cooling concept resulted in a substantial increase in manufacturing expenses. Additionally, extensive testing revealed a stark reality of this approach.
In the course of long-term, high-intensity workload testing, it was found that temperatures occasionally exceeded normal levels. Most notably, the temperature difference between the vapor chamber heat spreader and the conventional metal one was a meager 1°C. Such a small discrepancy could be easily addressed by employing a better cooler, thus making the costly venture into vapor chamber technology economically unviable.
Learning and Innovation at AMD
Despite the drawbacks and eventual abandonment of the vapor chamber initiative, the experiment highlighted AMD's relentless pursuit of innovation. AMD's laboratories have been the birthplace of multiple successful projects, with engineers constantly pushing the boundaries of possibilities. Such initiatives include the Threadripper processors, a product of passionate side-project engineering that later received the go-ahead from AMD management. AMD is perpetually the underdog, and this fiercely drives innovative thinking to compete with the likes of Intel and NVIDIA, who can throw money at problems until they go away.
Although the Ryzen 7000 CPUs won't feature the innovative vapor chamber cooling, AMD's exploration has left the door open for this technology to be integrated in a more refined, cost-effective manner in future models. In the interim, AMD will continue to depend on efficient cooler designs to maintain optimal CPU temperatures, while relentlessly pursuing the next big innovation. AMD's willingness to explore and innovate, even when some experiments do not reach fruition, helps maintain its competitive edge in the industry and we can all appreciate rooting for the underdog to do something special.