Intel’s Next Mission: Fanless Convertibles

Intel’s Next Mission: Fanless Convertibles

Arguably the worst thing about the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is the ongoing presence of that goddamn fan unit. Despite the fact that it was meticulously developed to be thin, light and out of your way, Microsoft still needed to stick a fan in to cool the Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 chips. Intel, however, has a fix: it has designed a 2-in-1 device without the need for a fan.

Intel held aloft its new mobile reference PC at Computex this afternoon, heralding it as the future of convertible devices.

You see, the problem with building something like the Surface using Intel Core chips traditionally meant for laptops, is that they generate a lot of heat in a very small, narrow space. That space is usually enclosed by aluminium or rubbery plastic, leading to the whole device heating up and becoming uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous.

To combat this heat problem, manufacturers will invent tiny fans and smart housings for processors and components to keep everything cool. The problem being that you’ve now — as a designer — sacrificed thin and light designs for technology required to keep the unit cool and running.

Intel wants to solve this problem with new processors that don’t need to be constantly cooled, meaning that manufacturers can now make convertibles without fans, making everything much thinner and lighter for on-the-go use.

At the centre of this fanless marvel is the Intel Core M processor: an energy-efficient model that is designed to run without the need to be constantly kept cool. It’s based on Intel’s new 14nm Broadwell processors, which are specifically built for next-generation convertibles.

Intel expects the “majority” of the convertibles to be released in the next 12 months will feature fanless Intel M designs, making them super-thin at just 7.2mm in thickness.

Despite the fact that there’s no fan on the CPU itself, Intel’s new reference model did include a keyboard dock with a cooling system designed to “boost performance”.

Keeping everything cool still leads to better processing speeds after all.