Noctua: Exclusive Interview for AT
Their colors are almost iconic, they are unmistakable. Noctua is one of the best known companies dedicated to computer cooling and with the best solutions. In addition, this firm is European, from «home», so buying their products means buying technology developed here.
If you want to know a little more about Noctua and the interesting answers to this interview, I invite you to read on.
Architecnología: The first question is almost obligatory: Why did you choose these colors for the products?
Noctua: Back when we started to conceive Noctua almost 20 years ago, the PC market was just through the first wave of «modding». LEDs were everywhere, everything was blinking and flashy. To us it seemed that the cooling market was increasingly focused on visual design instead of technological progress. We wanted to break with this, both by putting technology first again but also in terms of aesthetics. So when looking for a colour scheme, it was clear that we wanted something that’s pretty much the opposite of the aggressive, flashy LED look.
The second thing that we had in mind is that the colour scheme should reflect calmness and quietness, not just in opposition to the LED aesthetics but also in a more general sense. We looked a things like furniture, Italian design, etc. for inspiration.
Last but not least, we did want the colours to stand out so that when you see a Noctua fan, you know it’s a Noctua fan.
AT: What kind of material (metal, carbon, ceramic) are your thermal compounds based on? And why?
N.: We use a mixture of metal oxide micro-particles because this gives the best thermal performance without risk of short circuits.
AT: What’s new in this second generation of thermal compounds?
N.: We have further fine-tuned the formula, which results in even better performance, especially at high heatloads.
AT: How does the industrialPPC series differ?
N.: Normally, our fans are designed to be as quiet as possible. The industrialPPC fans, by contrast, are high-speed fans for industrial applications where maximum performance is required and quietness of operation has less priority. They also come with up to IP67 ingress protection.
AT: Copper, aluminum, CMM, Dymalloy, E-Material, etc. Intelligent or advanced materials are also being investigated? What is the most promising material for heatsinks?
N.: So far, we’re still seeing the best results from combining copper bases with copper heatpipes and aluminium fins. We do experiment with novel materials such as diamond copper composites, graphene and the like, but so far, this is all still work in progress.
AT: What’s inside the heat pipes? Is there room for innovation or do most competitors use the same thing?
N.: A wick structure made from sintered copper plus fluid. Most competitors use the same basic structure, but it’s the fine-tuning and the extremely tight quality control that gives our heatpipes an edge.
AT: Sleeve, ball, fluid dynamic bearing, SSO,… Are there new, more durable innovations?
N.: Our SSO bearings have first been introduced in 2006 and many customers still run fans from back then. It’s hard to get more durable than that!
AT: In the fan design stages, Which parameters (RPM, vibration, air flow, blade design, microstructures, vortex, to control laminar flow and turbulent flow..) are most important to reduce the noise level? And How long does it usually take to develop a new product from the time it is designed, simulated with CFD,… until it is ready?
N.: All of these parameters play an important role and must be taken into consideration. As for the process, this is a multi-cycle thing, so it’s not like we finalise the CFD, prototype and are ready to go. The CFD is a starting point, then the findings from prototypes usually prompt further fine-tuning that is again simulated in CFD, prototyped, etc. All this can go through many cycles and often takes several years.
AT: Do you use digital twins to check reliability or real test bench? And What is the component that most limits the life of a fan?
N.: We use real world tests for reliability checks. The bearing is the limiting factor as it’s the only part that’s really susceptible to wear.
AT: Do you develop fluids for liquid cooling systems and for immersion cooling systems? Why?
N.: No we don’t, our experience is in air cooling.
AT: New chips with 3D packaging will pose a cooling challenge with multiple stacked dice. Are you working on future products for this type of system?
N.: We are constantly working to further improve our coolers, but it’s hard to do much about what happens underneath the HIS of the CPU.
AT: How does Anti-Stall Knobs work at a technical level? And Sterrox® liquid-crystal polymer (LCP)?
N.: Please refer to the technical illustrations on our website:
Anti Stall Knobs
Sterrox Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP)
AT: Finally, If you had to recommend the use of your products compared to those of your competitors, what would you say to convince a customer? What makes you different from the rest?
N.: Our products offer a unique combination of performance, quality and quietness of operation, so I’m confident that they should be the first choice for customers who want to build silent, high-end systems and don’t want to compromise on quality.