back to article Appletops may get juice pump

The latest Apple patent to surface points out that the upcoming mobile round of Intel's Nehalem chips may require more cooling mojo than the current Penryn line. On November 27, the United States Patent and Trademark Office published patent application number 20080291629, originally filed by Apple on May 22 of last year and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing New

    One of the issues Apple had with their previous foray into liquid cooled systems was that they leaked and used water. No matter how you spin it, this is a bad combo as some of the unlucky G5 owners can attest. So, what to do; In this patent they use a dielectric fluid (R134a) and flow boil it across the silicon die. Their use of the term heat pipe is wrong, this is not a heat pipe system in anyway shape or form. This is a great process, it provides about 6x more thermal transfer, if the system should ever leak R134a flashes to gas at ambient conditions and is inert even if it doesnt and it's about as good as it gets for a liquid cooling system.

    There is only one problem with the patent, it's already being done by a small company in Boston called Thermal Form & Function. They already own the IP for this process, I'm guessing Apple knows this, it's not hard to find so what is there intent with this filing? Either they are way stupid or simply want to take a small company to court and win because they are bigger - hmm bad apple, bad.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suggest

    A liquid assisted fan that may require no pumps, this would utilise the display of the laptop as a large radiator, it would have liquid filled pipes running back and forth across the entire surface of the screen.

    A third fan (to supplement the two that are in most new laptops) would lie in the center of the laptop beneath the keyboard, it will draw it's air through the shell of the screen across the liquid filled pipes thereby cooling them, this cooled liquid will be connected to a miniature radiator on the CPU(s) that alternates with stripes of pipes and stripes of heat sink to allow regular fan assisted cooling and liquid assisted.

    The second law of thermo dynamics pretty much says that hot tends to go to cold, so via convection the heat will be transfered to the the cool radiator within the screen.

    This system will presumably have very little pressure other than that of the head of water within the screen as it contains no pumps thereby lessening the risk of leakage.

    Just a thought.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Go Apple!

    Wow. Using liquid to transfer heat from the thermal source to a heat exchanger. Brilliant innovation. Hope their patent application is successful.

  4. Dave Silver badge

    They did a lovely job

    ... with the Cube, having the motherboard in the shape of a chimney and using convection to cool it without fans. I digress, but though that their previous takes on the heat-sinking issue was worth rememberiiing.

    It isn't obvious from El Reg's write up what exactley is novel in the patent, or indeed from the patent application, since it attempts to cover several variations- some of which must surely have been done before. Using the rear of the screen as the heat sink makes sense, and is new to me.

    Can anyone do a better job than my tired brain at highlighting the new idea in this patent?

    (I'm not an apple fanboy, never had one. But that their use of a "super-cable" from your 'puter to your desk with combined video, monitor power, audio in/out, and some USB ports is an innovation I wish had spread to the PC world (not bloomin likely when people brought kit by comparing numbers) - so I had a solution those times my dad cried out "Why have I got a f#cking snakes' nest behond my desk?".)

    Flames - because when my eBook reaches 451 degrees farenheit it censors itself.

  5. Neil Stansbury


    UK Patent Rules:

    1. The invention must be new

    2. The invention must have an inventive step that is not obvious to someone with knowledge and experience in the subject

    Not-New-Idea + No-Inventive-Step = Most-Apple-Patent-Crap

    The fact that Apple can even apply for such a pathetic patent highlights the US Patent system's utter inadequacies, and certainly that the rest of the world shouldn't beholden themselves to such inflated IP garbage.

  6. Andy Amiss
    Jobs Horns

    The Power Mac G5's unwelcome secretions

    Oh yeah - Often the first a user knows about this is the power supply going pop - (Liquid cooled processor directly ABOVE a power supply - good job apple. I'm surprised that I've never read of a major fire attributed to a leaking G5). So the user packs it up and sends it in.

    Of course, during transit the thing's bumped around, stacked upside down, laid flat etc, and by the time we get hold of it the coolant has pissed all over the logicboard and sometimes even managed to take out the video card and/or the hard drives.

    I once had the pleasure of inspecting one of these where every major component had corrosion damage - total write off. Customer was not best pleased.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Dave

    The Cube's motherboard was flat, the "chimney" being on its reverse, where the processor and a ruddy great heatsink lived. One discovery made by the early Torx-wielders was that Apple had left a bracket at the very bottom of the chimney which was curiously just the right size to fit a slim fan to and provide some forced convection. Naturally, this became a standard mod for those seeking to drag every last scrap of power from their Cubes, and it didn't seem to hurt the longevity: I'm typing this on my fan-assisted, 1.2GHz Cube.

  8. Steve
    Thumb Down

    prior art


    Hitachi unveils water cooled laptop.

    Add to that that moving water cooling from desktop to laptop systems is obvious and this patent has absolutely no merit. Which in the US almost guarantees that it will be passed and then Apple can sue all and sundry in Texas.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Liquidand Laptops

    Why not just link it into your blood circulation? Quick, efficient and reduces the need for a heart. Im sure many fanbois would like this...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the coolant going to be?

    I suggest apple juice... it'll be cider by the time the laptop's dead, so you can drown your sorrows...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err This isn't just laptops....

    Only claim 21 has anything to do with laptops, all the other claims are to do with liquid cooling for computers IN GENERAL. Shouldn't be too hard for any company to get this patent chucked out.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    The us patent system..

    .. isn't really about new inventions, they grant pretty much everything and let the courts decied whats valid and what isn't.,Anyone who wants to point out to apple that this isn't new or novel or that someone else did it before they applied will have to fight them legally so most won't bother.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Wow, apple do it again..

    So you can spot an apple laptop user by the wet patch on their pants.. Or is it just another wino?

    Stunning innovation though. using a heat pipe attached to a large surface area of metal to cool a chip, wonder if anyone else had ever thought of it, like, umm maybe every other PC manufacturer on the planet?

    At least the lucky owners can console themselves that it looks great in the box when they send it back for repair.

    Paris, do I really have to make the wet patch/box joke or can you work it out for yourself?

  14. richard


    how come on every post, Anonymous Coward post several comments of different opinions? are you a skitzo or what? and how come you're a Anonymous Coward for different reasons on different days, like you work for companies who deal in different areas?

    try and be brave.

    oh, and this patent application is one of many that apple and the rest file every week - it usually means nothing, just some experimentation.

  15. TeeCee Gold badge


    1) Take Monitor lead, USB leads, audio leads etc.

    2) Lay together on desk.

    3) Wind black duct tape along length.

    Hey presto, one cable with all your connections bundled together. Costs perilously close to fuck all and has another massive advantage over the Apple variant, you get to choose exactly what goes in the bundle to suit your port requirements. Upgrades can be perfomed using scissors and more duct tape.

    Overpaid types may wish to sustitute some fancy commercial cable grouping product for the duct tape.

  16. Mick F
    Thumb Down


    My Mackbook Pro very hot, a lot hotter than the HP I use doing the same job. They need to sort out the heat problem somehow but liquid cooling is not sensible one. The fanboy's will buy it regardless and claim Apple invented the idea.

  17. Len Goddard


    Ahhh, but would you have to put the coolant system into a plastic bag to get on an airplane? Can't be too careful about those terrorists and their binary explosives.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    this should never be awarded

    When is the US going to sort out it's ridiculously broken and exploitative Patent system?

    If they don't when is Apple going to stop behaving like a bully with ridiculous patent applications?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Remind me again

    Is this the bit were we all rush round whooping and cheering - then stand round in awe and gape at 'The Almighty Jobs' TM astounded by his forward thinking and his latest 'innovation' ?

    Look the man is brilliant, who else could come up with such engineering moving computer development along in leaps and bounds. Yet another reason to be arrogantly smug over the poor PC users who can't afford/ don't see the merit in paying over the odds for a shiny case with a badge on it (delete as appropriate). They never see fantastic engineering like this in their ........ Oh wait

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Dave & @TeeCee

    Why use ducttape when Fellowes makes the Cable Zip.

    Lovely. AND it's reusable. AND it doesn't leave marks.

  21. Anonymous Coward


    Who's running Apple, the businessmen or the solicitors? And who solicits this crap?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    check this out...

    from 2006

    water cooled 360 laptop!

    There is a mark 2 out there as well!

  23. Dave Silver badge

    @ A. C. re Ben Heck's 360 Laptop...

    I believe he's made Mk III just recently. I'm glad that there is someone out threre who is as good at putting things together as he is at taking them apart!

    Is there any truth in the news of Apple applying for patents thery never intend to us for the purpose of disguising their future product road-maps?

    Coat Icon- man retrieving water-cooled calculator from the pocket.

  24. Vincent

    Re:Re: Ben Heck's 360 Laptop

    Yup, here it is, I think:

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can one of you Oh! so enlightened! people tell me how this application points out flaws in the US patent system? Try to put aside your childish vendettas and get a grip for a second; you can file an application for shoelaces if you want. Filing an application does not grant a patent.

    But you experts would know that already, wouldn't you? Sheesh, trolls and morons...

  26. fluffels
    Dead Vulture

    it seems...

    ...that comments on El Reg are becoming more and more like comments on Slash Dot.

    And that is in no way a good thing.

  27. Henry Wertz Gold badge


    @Steve etc.

    This isn't really related to water OR liquid cooling, the patent title is rather misleading. R134a is used in car air conditioners... At regular pressures it's actually a gas, the oddest thing about this whole patent is Apple's insistence on refering to this as liquid cooling. In an R134a setup (for cars) the evaporator has a low-pressure cold gas, this is in the dashboard on a car or would be on the heat plate of a computer. This gas is is heated by the air or CPU (cooling off the air or CPU as a result)... This now-hot low pressure gas is run through the compressor, which compresses this into a hot high-pressure gas. This is run through the condensor (on a car this is the "extra radiator" you may notice on air conditioned models), where it's cooled by air rushing past.. By the time it's all cooled off it's a high-pressure liquid. The high-pressure liquid runs through an expansion valve or orifice tube, at which point it's a cold low-pressure gas (for the same reason that compressed air from a can is cold...) It's now ready to go back into the evaporator.

    Two problems with this:

    1) Where would you place the condensor? The heat doesn't just go away, this is just a fancy heat-transfer system.

    2) Environmental. Apparently the EU has banned new car designs using R134a as of 2011, because its' a greenhouse gas. A computer is not a car, but how green will Apple look putting "banned" refrigerants into brand-new products?

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