Water inside: IBM's new approach to cooling stacked chips

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Researchers at IBM, working with researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, have developed a 3D stacked chip (with memory and processing stacked on top of each other) cooled with water piped in between the layers:

IBM logo“As we package chips on top of each other to significantly speed a processor’s capability to process data, we have found that conventional coolers attached to the back of a chip don’t scale. In order to exploit the potential of high-performance 3-D chip stacking, we need interlayer cooling,” explains Thomas Brunschwiler, project leader at IBM’s Zurich Research Laboratory. “Until now, nobody has demonstrated viable solutions to this problem.”

Brunschwiler and his team piped water into cooling structures as thin as a human hair (50 microns) between the individual chip layers in order to remove heat efficiently at the source.


  1. […] work has been funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research. A similar concept, funded by IBM, uses water in 3D chip […]