Fanless PCs Becoming Mainstream in Industrial Applications

There are many subjects to consider when designing a PC for industrial applications, including processor & graphics performance, thermal ventilation, vibration, and form factor, just to name a few. In the past, most industrial PCs required using cooling fans to dissipate the heat generated by the processor and other components. Unfortunately, fans needed for cooling complicated the design and created additional challenges for design engineers.

Issues with Using Cooling Fans

Industrial applications often operate in unfriendly environments like temperature, vibrations, dust, and moisture. If not carefully chosen and maintained, cooling fans are a high failure component of a typical PC. An additional filter for the air intake is usually needed to prevent dust from coming into the chassis. And cleaning the filters results in service costs as industrial environments usually have a lot of dust and debris.

Cooling Without Fans

Thanks to the improvement in power efficiency of the new generation of processors and graphic processors, the same computing performance can be delivered with much less heat dissipation. Without the need to account for the fan, design engineers were able to:

  • Removing a major moving component in a PC’s design.
  • Make use of the space where room for airflow was needed with more compact chassis.
  • Allow for higher ingress protection against dust and debris, with no need for a ventilation opening.

Pre-validated Configuration for Fanless Designs

In the past, design engineers would configure a PC based upon different components. In many cases, the chassis, processor, cooling fan, etc. may have all come from different vendors. Then, the overall system performance would need to be validated to ensure the system meets specifications. With fanless PCs, the vendor has already performed a great deal of the system validation. The design engineer can now select a processor from the qualified list, and can trust the system will meet its target specifications. This subtle improvement greatly reduces system validation time and respective costs. The next time you have an industrial PC project, consider using fanless PCs to see if you can take the advantages of this new trend. You will be surprised to see the latest technologies that have now made the system design possible.