Heat is of course the number one unwanted byproduct of semi-conductors and getting rid of it is becoming harder and harder.  You can see the effects of this on the industry, as they try to create CPUs that require less power to do more calculations but we have already passed the point when strapping a kilogram of copper to a CPU is not unusual.  Exotic solutions like peltiers and watercooling have become much more popular and is not limited to those brave few who wanted to build an entire cooling loop from scratch. 

The release of the 6 core Gulftown processor yesterday just makes this cooling problem more obvious, as there are now half again as many heat producing cores in the i7 980X.  The next step we are hoping for is 3 dimensional cores, where they can be stacked on top of one another as opposed to side by side, something that will be necessary if you do not want chips to start being several inches per side.  Some bright fellows at MIT have come up with a new material that might just help prevent CPUs of that size from happening.  According to Slashdot they have discovered a certain type of polyethylene fibre that is able to move thermal energy in a single direction.

“The new process causes the polymer to conduct heat very efficiently in just one direction, unlike metals, which conduct equally well in all directions. … The key to the transformation was getting all the polymer molecules to line up the same way, rather than forming a chaotic tangled mass, as they normally do. The team did that by slowly drawing a polyethylene fiber out of a solution, using the finely controllable cantilever of an atomic-force microscope, which they also used to measure the properties of the resulting fiber. This fiber was about 300 times more thermally conductive than normal polyethylene along the direction of the individual fibers, says the team’s leader…”

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