Chapter 11: Problems with using Thermoelectric Elements

Chapter 11: Problems with using Thermoelectric Elements


Some tools and facilities ensure optimal temperature modes for semiconductor components whose operation is characterized by intensive heat emission (processors, video chips, etc.). These tools and facilities can employ special elements, such as Peltier modules. Sufficiently powerful modules support a temperature of protected components below the ambient temperature. However, the procedures for choosing and running such tools have specific features and often require the user to perform calculations.

The operation of high-performance electronic components, the architectural basis of a modern computer, releases a significant amount of heat, especially in overclocked modes. Efficient operation of such components requires adequate cooling that ensures the required temperature conditions. It is a common practice to use special cooling devices or coolers to ensure optimum temperature conditions. Generally, these coolers are based on traditional heatsinks and fans.

The reliability and performance of such cooling devices are improved constantly as technology advances, designs improve, and control facilities are implemented, including various sensors. This ensures the possibility of integrating such facilities with computer systems and providing diagnostic and control facilities for monitoring temperature conditions. This improves the reliability and prolongs the trouble-free operation of hardware components.

The parameters of traditional coolers also are improved continually. Other cooling devices, such as semiconductor Peltier coolers, recently appeared on the market. These new cooling devices quickly became popular.

Peltier coolers contain special semiconductor thermoelectric modules. Their operating principles are based on the Peltier effect, discovered in 1834. These cooling devices are impressive and have been successfully used in various branches of science and technology.

In the 1960s and 1970s, multiple attempts were made to implement small household refrigerators based on the Peltier effect. Unfortunately, an insufficient level of technology and relatively high prices did not allow such a device to be created, except in a few experimental instances.

Fortunately, the Peltier effect and thermoelectric modules were never reduced to an interesting but neglected topic of scientific research. As technology improved, it became possible to diminish most of the negative effects. As a result of these efforts, efficient and reliable semiconductor coolers appeared.

Currently, modules based on the Peltier effect are used to cool various electronic components of modern computers, such as processors.

The unique properties of Peltier modules can be used to cool computer components as required without encountering technical problems or making considerable financial investments. Peltier coolers are promising because they save space and are reliable, convenient, and very efficient.

The most promising semiconductor coolers are those used for overclocked systems, especially for ones operating in extremely overclocked modes. Extreme overclocking ensures a large gain in performance, but the temperature conditions of elements in such modes often are near the limits of modern hardware endurance.

Note that high-performance processors are not the only components whose operation is accompanied by significant heat release. Modern video adapters and sometimes memory modules also require a sufficient cooling, even in normal operating modes.