Liquid cooling: today's solution for the COTS enclosures of tomorrow

Conduction cooling of boards has numerous advantages: lack of air flow over the boards reduces the possible impact of contaminants; boards are inherently more rigid, mitigating the effect of shock and vibration; it enables a compact, easy to maintain solution; and last but not least, it's highly cost-effective. However, conduction cooling has a distinct limitation. With conventional boards and cooling air passed through hollow chassis sidewall heat exchangers, power dissipation is typically limited to 15 watts per slot at a time when boards are beginning to approach power consumption of 50 watts per slot or more. Either board design must be compromised, or alternative cooling methodologies considered. Liquid cooling provides an affordable solution. What's more, it's an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary step. Board form factors don't need to change, thus preserving investment and allowing legacy products to co-exist with new and even yet-to-be-introduced designs.