Solid-state drives (SSDs), a new type of computer storage, were a major improvement in performance. They were able to achieve incredibly fast seek speeds by substituting silicon for solid rust. Some companies are pushing the limits so far that they need liquid cooling for their drives, as reported by The Register.
ADATA Project NeonStorm is the device in question. It combines a PCIe SSD with RGB LEDs, a liquid cooler, and a radiator, as well as a cooling fan. The company doesn't give many details but is clearly excited that its storage products are now the latest high-end gaming jewelry.
Not everyone is jumping on board, however. Jon Tanguy, from Crucial, told The Register that, while the company has noticed modern SSDs running hotter than ever, it does not yet see a requirement for active cooling. Heatsinks were sufficient in their case. He says that NAND flash, which is used in SSDs, operates best between 60 and 70 C. However going beyond 80 C can cause damage. Most drives will shut down or throttle access if this temperature is exceeded.
Even if you have the latest and greatest SSDs, you don't really need to liquid-cool them. If you want to have the most slick gaming machine on Twitch there are plenty of products that will happily take your money.
The m.2 slot doesn't have a lot of bus power (numbers vary; but the highest I've seen is in OCP's m.2 carrier cards specs, which are aimed primarily at fancy hyper scalers running other PCIe peripherals on the m.2 format; rather than m.2 memory; and even then the requirement is only 8.5-14.85 Watts per module; which suggests that vendors don't want to receive RMAs from customers whose motherboards
15 watts per square inch of a 2280 is not enough to just stick a label on the product and have no airflow. But it's still within the range of heat pipes and fins that aren't exceptional if the ambient temperature is reasonable and there's some airflow.
At this point, pc modding has become a meme. It's the stuff fans who are pushing the limits, by removing unnecessary components and using fewer materials in their build. The components that are meant for large, gaudy builds can be a hindrance. This includes oversized GPUs or mobos with plastic moldings and beautiful CNC-machined heat sinks. You won't see it behind the EMI-shielded mesh side panels.
But it's not all about bragging rights. It's important to know the limits of hardware in order to improve the next generation. This is why PC hardware manufacturers sponsor the competitions.
While the competitions may be fun, most people want to build gaming systems. You don't need to go as far as water cooling in order to achieve this. My sff builds can do it in a 12-liter chassis with air cooling. The data center is where water cooling makes the most sense, as you can use the waste heat to power other applications. You could provide hot water and heat in a building with several data center floors or, at larger scales for industrial applications. It doesn't make sense to just dump the heat into the environment. Instead, you can air cool and eliminate the middleman. My cat is happy when she curls next to the graphics card during a gaming session.
Water cooling is used in data centers. Silicon is not keeping pace with the ever-growing demand for power. Companies like Nvidia are pushing silicon harder, requiring heavier heatsinks. I could see the future where data center equipment, especially anything AI-related, will use water cooling to keep it smaller and lighter.
Since the SSD is based upon a trapped charge within a gate, which at higher temperatures is subject to greater thermal noise ie. One would expect that reliability would improve at a suitable lower temperature but not so low as to affect connections such as solder bristling.
SSDs are not good for long-term storage reliability, as the charge can degrade or even be "knocked out" over time. For example, switch polarity because of (likely high) radiation. SSDs are benefited by being read, which, as I understand it, automatically refreshes their gate charge. One wonders if a scan check is enough or if one should use a program that reads each bit of the entire drive as a measure of confidence.
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