Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Turning video cards upside down

Via xbit labs, Asus has stumbled upon an idea that has long been a question among computer system builders: why are GPU chips mounted upside down?

Technically, the card is manufactured will all the components on the top (according to the AGP and PCI Express specifications. Here’s where things get interesting.

AGP and PCI Express slots are attached to the motherboard in such a way that they are, in effect, mounted upside down. According to physics, heat rises. So here you’ve got a very hot graphics processor with a big chunk of metal and a fan on it (aka: the heatsink or “cooler”) to try to dissapate the heat, but the heat is naturally trying to go UP (into the PCB) not down (into the HSF. Does that seem contra-intuitive to anyone else?

With this card, Asus has done something novel: rather than rebuilding the entire card upside down (or rightside up, depending on your perspective) they can left the “guts” of the card on the same side, but moved the GPU to the other side of the card. According to Asus this results in cards running up to 30 degrees (F) cooler!

Presently this is only on their 6600 series video card (better than both the cards that I presently have, but not anywhere near the REALLY heat intense 7800 series cards), but hopefully the writing is on the wall and we’ll start to see more inivative thinking!


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