NEC and Hitachi team to water-cool hard drives

Score one for water-cooling fanatics. NEC and Hitachi just announced a partnership focused on developing a liquid cooling system for hard drives. Let’s take a look at how liquid cooling typically works, why it’s attractive, and how Hitachi and NEC plan to liquid cool a hard drive.

In most run-of-the-mill liquid cooling kits, water is pumped across a cooling plate that’s clamped on top of a CPU, much like a standard CPU fan is. The water is pumped across the plate, which is filled with mini-ridges to help dissipate the heat, and then out through another hose, also attached to the plate. From here, the now-warmed liquid travels up to a reservoir, then to a radiator with fans that cools the liquid down and sends it back across the processor again. It’s a relatively simple process, and some water-cooling fanatics also choose to water-cool their video cards. But what’s the allure to water-cooling?

Hitachi and NEC are developing the water-cooled hard drive systems for desktop computers mainly to reduce noise levels to 25 decibels, 5 decibels quieter than a whisper. To do this, NEC and Hitachi actually wrap the hard drive in “noise absorbing material and vibration insulation.” Further, the companies have chosen to use a low-speed radiator fan to keep decibel levels down in the radiator also. Creating a quieter hard drive isn’t the only focus though, as the companies also hope to keep the hard drives cooler.

According to Hitachi and NEC, the cooling cold plate they’re planning to use is the most efficient plate ever used for heat conduction, which means they’ll be able to cool the hard drives quicker and more efficiently. The cooling plate technology uses a series of fine ridges, similar to the ones in CPU cooling plates, that are just 0.09mm in width, and through which anti-freeze liquid will travel. Since water-cooling technology is relatively old, we imagine Hitachi and NEC set out to create a quieter hard drive, and the best way to achieve this was to wrap it in the noise-absorbing material. Since that material likely heated the drives more, the most practical option was to water-cool the drives.

News source: ARSTECHNICA


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