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Samsung Engineers Discuss the Galaxy S7’s Heat Pipe

April 14, 2016 - Written By Mihai Matei

The Samsung Galaxy S7 series is now one of the highest rated smartphones on the market, with several consumer media outlets from the U.S. and Europe recommending both the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge as two of the best handsets currently available for purchase. Needless to say, there are many reasons why Samsung’s latest flagship series has been the subject of positive reviews, and there are many features that contribute to making the Galaxy S7 series a hit. Most of these features are visible to the naked eye and include components such as the Dual Pixel autofocus camera, the brilliant display, or the premium exterior design, but other features contributing to the Samsung Galaxy S7’s success are concealed under the hood. Such is the case with the new cooling system found inside the new series, which relies on a heat pipe to dissipate thermal radiation. This is a rather new addition to the world of smartphones, and earlier today Samsung’s Haejin Lee, Sanghyun Yi, Kyungha Koo, and Jeonggyu Jo have discussed the reasons behind adding a heat pipe as well as the benefits of using this system.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge have been equipped with a heat pipe designed to keep the CPU and GPU’s temperatures in check. This is important because, as an application processor operates under heavier load, the unit’s temperature increases and the CPU’s clock rates are decreased in order to prevent heat from building up excessively. This is called thermal throttling, and it generally prevents a chipset from reaching dangerous heat levels. However, as thermal throttling occurs performance also decreases, and one way to prevent this while also maintaining a healthy temperature for the chipset is to use a cooling system, similar to how most desktop computers use a radiator and fan to keep the CPU’s temperatures in check. However, a smartphone is a completely different beast compared to a PC, and obviously, a new cooling system had to be devised. For the Samsung Galaxy S7 series, the Korean tech giant had to manufacture a thermal spreader measuring only 0.4 mm in diameter, effectively making it the thinnest heat pipe in the market.

What’s even more interesting is how this special heat pipe works. Unlike conventional thermal spreaders, the heat pipe used inside the Samsung Galaxy S7 series contains cooling liquid which turns into steam once it reaches a certain temperature. The steam moves through the pipes spreading thermal radiation, and once the spreader loses heat, the steam inside liquefies and returns to its usual state. However, there’s also a bit of software wizardry involved. According to Samsung’s Advanced Product Senior Engineer, Jeongguy Jo, due to spacial limitations the thermal spreader alone is not enough to maintain a healthy temperature for the application processor, and as such the engineering team had to calculate the amount of electric current used by the CPU, while optimizing the heat control algorithm “to minimize occurring heat”. The developers also had to “thoroughly evaluate” whether the cooling system could affect other internal components and their performance while cooling down the device. Needless to say, a lot of work went into creating this particular cooling system, and following the Samsung Galaxy S7’s success, more smartphone makers could adopt similar solutions for their future models.