Diamond GPUs: the next step?

20th November 2023
Harry Fowle

Diamond Foundry has employed heteroepitaxy for the production of single-crystal diamonds on scalable substrates to create diamond GPUs. The company has been investigating how diamonds can be used to regulate temperatures in high-performance CPUs and GPUs, yielding some remarkable results.

According to the Wall Street Journal, tests on a high-end Nvidia GPU featuring synthetic diamond wafers have shown approximately threefold performance improvement compared to standard manufacturing materials. However, these benchmarks are not publicly available, so the claims cannot be fully verified at this stage, nor can a timeline be established for when diamond-cooled graphics cards might hit the market. Nonetheless, if these findings hold true, they could position the graphics card as the fastest globally.

The importance of efficient microchip cooling is increasingly vital as components shrink in size. To fit more power into smaller devices, the industry needs effective cooling solutions to maintain peak performance levels over extended periods.

Diamond Foundry has achieved a significant milestone with the world’s first 100mm single-crystal diamond wafer. This achievement is the result of a 30-year-long project. By using heteroepitaxy, the company has not only created single-crystal diamonds on scalable substrates but also devised a method to scale this process.

While Diamond Foundry explores the incorporation of diamond wafers in chip design, Intel is focusing on glass substrates in its products. Intel’s glass solution aims to enhance efficiency and communication between chips rather than direct cooling.

Diamond Foundry aims to reduce defect density in its diamond wafers and fully harness the cooling capabilities of diamonds. The company suggests that diamond is 17,200 times more effective than silicon and 60 times better than silicon carbide for cooling purposes.

Why diamond GPUs?

The utilisation of diamonds for cooling in electronic components presents several notable benefits. Diamonds, renowned for their excellent thermal conductivity, can significantly enhance the heat dissipation from critical components like GPUs and CPUs, leading to more efficient and stable performance. This method could potentially enable devices to operate at higher speeds without the risk of overheating, thereby extending the lifespan of the components. Furthermore, the use of diamond-based cooling systems could pave the way for more compact and powerful electronic devices, as the enhanced cooling efficiency allows for a reduction in the size of traditional cooling systems. This advancement in cooling technology could be a crucial factor in meeting the demands for smaller, faster, and more powerful electronic devices in various applications, from consumer electronics to high-end computing systems.

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