Not too long ago, CPU’s functioned without advanced heat pipe heat sinks and liquid cooling. At the start of the computer revolution, it was not uncommon for CPU’s to use no heat sinks, followed by simple natural convection heat sinks for thermal enhancement.
Still today, many low power processors do not need significant cooling strategies. Eventually, as designers and users requested more power and more power density, more advanced cooling technologies such as heat pipe, liquid cooling, and even pumped two-phase cooling strategies made their way into more demanding applications.
As the LED revolution continues to proceed, it appears they too will follow a similar path.
Currently, commodity LED lights are following the path of the low power processor: natural convection with smaller heat sinks or simply board level conduction cooling are capable of keeping the LEDs below their maximum operating temperature. At higher powers, stage and theatrical lighting are now stepping forward to become the analogy to the leading edge CPUs used in gaming and server applications. Similarly, heat pipes, and even pumped two-phase cooling strategies are now being requested by the LED market to meet the need for higher power lighting applications.
LED device designers can take some comfort knowing their CPU forerunners have developed effective, reliable thermal management solutions for their current and even emerging products.
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