A new Sony patent hints the PS5 could use liquid metal compound instead of thermal grease to significantly reduce temperatures under load.
Before we dive into the patent, I want to remind everyone this isn't confirmed information. This is a patent and may not be included in the final console. The following is our interpretation of the patent and it is not our intention to mislead anyone.
Sony has gone through great lengths to keep the PlayStation 5 cool and quiet.
Considering the PS5 features a higher-end PC-level SoC that can deliver 4K gaming,16GB of GDDR6 RAM, and a 5.5GB/sec PCIe 4.0 SSD that generates more heat the faster it goes, cooling is extremely important. The devkit, for example, had vapor-chamber cooling and six fans.
PS5 architect Mark Cerny said gamers will be 'very happy' with the PS5's cooling solution. Sony even re-designed how the PS5's SoC works by making voltages static and implementing variable CPU and GPU clock speeds. Now a recent patent outlines more of those cooling efforts.
The patent admittedly isn't tremendously exciting, but it does bode well for gamers who want a cool PS5.
It basically outlines how Sony could use a liquid metal cooling compound on the 7nm SoC instead of thermal grease, which will reduce thermals under intense workloads. Liquid metal is the most effective thermal compound and is much better than the traditional thermal paste used in previous PlayStation hardware.
Liquid metal compound is also the most expensive.
ASUS has found a way to automate liquid metal applications on a mass-market level.
How effective any thermal compound is depends on its thermal conductivity, which is measured in Watts per meter Kelvin (W/mk). The lower W/mk, the less heat is transferred. Products like Thermal Grizzy's liquid metal Conductonaut compound, for example, have a massive 73 W/mK rating.
Traditional thermal compound like Arctic's MX-4 paste has a 8.5 W/mK rating.
This also indicates the PS5 could have a copper heat sink. Liquid metal thermal compound is made of gallium, which is corrosive to aluminum.
Up until now metal compound wasn't used in consoles because using it in mass-market manufacturing simply was too difficult. ASUS has since made a new application process for liquid metal compound and plans to use it in their upcoming laptops. It's possible Sony has developed a similar method.
Here's more info from the patent:
A semiconductor chip that constitutes a semiconductor device that functions as a Central Processing Unit (CPU), a Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), or the like is thermally connected to a radiator such as a heat sink or a heat pipe, and is cooled. There are many electronic devices in which grease is used as a heat conductive material provided between a semiconductor chip and a radiator.
However, when the amount of heat generated by the semiconductor chip increases, it becomes difficult to sufficiently cool the semiconductor chip due to the thermal resistance of the grease. In the semiconductor device of Patent Document 2, instead of grease, a metal that is liquefied by heat during operation of the semiconductor chip is used as a heat conductive material between the semiconductor chip and the radiator. When such a metal is used, the thermal resistance between the semiconductor chip and the radiator is lowered, and the cooling performance of the semiconductor chip can be improved.
In a structure in which a fluid metal is used as a heat conductive material, in order to sufficiently exert cooling performance, it is possible to limit the range in which the heat conductive material spreads even when the semiconductor device changes its posture or vibrates, is important. Further, it is important that the force sufficiently acts on the semiconductor chip when the radiator is pressed against the semiconductor chip. That is, the adhesion between the semiconductor chip and the radiator is also important.
Most of the patent talks about various permutations of the theoretical SoC cooling setup, but the general gist calls for an SoC soldered to a mount, which is sealed off to prevent any liquid metal leakage or spillage, which can be a big problem with liquid metal. The SoC and radiator are pressed firmly together with liquid metal compound in between.
The patent is separate from the infamous PlayStation 5 heat sink patent, which showed raised heat-conducting metal channels that would connect the SoC to the heat sink. In this patent, the heat sink is directly attached to the SoC.
Below are a bunch of pictures from the patent illustrating how this will work. This number key will be important:
- 50 - Radiator
- 11 - Semiconductor chip
- 31 - Heat conducting material
- 18 - Solder balls
- 16 - Capcitors
- 33 - Seal member
- 15 - Insulating portion
- 14 - Stiffener
- 115 - Insulating sheet
FIG. 1A is a cross-sectional view showing an example of an electronic device proposed in the present disclosure.
FIG. 1B is an enlarged view of a main part shown in FIG. 1A.
FIG. 4 is a diagram for explaining a manufacturing process of the electronic device.
Next, as shown in FIG. 4, the heat conductive material 31 is applied to the upper surface 11a of the semiconductor chip 11 and the lower surface 50c of the radiator 50. It is desirable to spread the heat conducting material 31 over the entire upper surface 11a of the semiconductor chip 11 by utilizing the fluidity of the heat conducting material 31. Further, it is desirable that the heat conductive material 31 is spread over the entire area of the lower surface 50c of the radiator 50 corresponding to the semiconductor chip 11. The area of the radiator 50 to which the heat conductive material 31 is applied is preferably larger than the size of the semiconductor chip 11.
FIG. 5A is a cross-sectional view showing another example of the electronic device proposed in the present disclosure.
FIG. 5A is a sectional view showing a modification of the electronic device 1. FIG. 5B is an enlarged view of FIG. 5A. In these drawings, the electronic device 1 has a semiconductor device 110 as a modified example of the semiconductor device 10. In this figure, the same parts as those described above are designated by the same reference numerals.
The semiconductor device 110 has an insulating sheet 115 (see FIG. 5A) as an insulating portion that covers conductor elements such as the capacitor 16 and the circuit pattern. The insulating sheet 115 is a resin molded sheet. As a material for the insulating sheet 115, for example, engineering plastics such as polycarbonate and polyamide can be used. FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the insulating sheet 115. In FIG. 5A and FIG. 5B, the insulating sheet 115 is shown with a reduced width in the left-right direction as compared with the insulating sheet 115 shown in FIG.