Designing & Building a GPU Cooler: Engineering Lab Tour for Water Blocks

by birtanpublished on September 30, 2020

in a previous factory tour we talked
about how bits powers qionghua taiwan
factory manufactures its water cooling
blocks fittings reservoirs and even ln2
today's tour looks at the company's R&D
facility down the street where initial
development and post manufacturing QC is
handled most of this is done by the same
four pieces of equipment but it's worth
breaking it out into a separate video
today we'll look at surface level this
measurements something that we
introduced into our own cooler reviews
recently along side block keep out zone
compliance planning quality control
error and run to run variation in unit
dimensions and the software side of
development before that this video is
brought to you by EVGA Tsar TX 28 e TI
XE ultra the 28 e TI XE ultra is what we
use in our CP reviews to avoid GPU
bottlenecks the XE ultra uses hydraulic
dynamic bearing fans for reduced noise
features our TX support for DX our
titles and uses a massive 2.75 slot
cooler the cooler design allows the fans
to spin slower and quieter while sinking
heat further leveraging a mix of
l-shaped and traditional fins to
maximize airflow or contact
learn more at the link in the
description below before any of the
previous tours machining takes place the
company first has to design and
prototype its products the previous tour
looked at fitting manufacturing water
block manufacturing and acrylic
component manufacturing and you can find
that torque and all of our other factory
tours in the series in our factory to
our playlist linked in the description
below we'll start this process with
planning bits power first faces a
challenge that isn't related to
mechanical engineering or its
manufacturing but is instead related to
relations and a different type of
engineering social engineering the
company has to get its hands on any new
products coming to market as far in
advance as possible and sometimes even
has to wait until launch to buy new
video cards or motherboards from a
business perspective this has massive
implications availability at launch is
the difference between a successful
product release for a cooling company
and letting their competitor take the
market because if bids power doesn't get
to it on day one someone else competing
with them surely will because of how
restrictive Nvidia and AMD are with
sampling it can sometimes be difficult
to get components early enough to have
measurements for block manufacturing so
bits power has to rely on its
relationships to pull through
and with something like 90% of the
blocks being sold being for NVIDIA cards
and with how Nvidia is completely crazy
when it comes to sampling it makes sense
that this would be one of the most
trying times for a company to try and
get its new products together once this
cloak-and-dagger process of talking to
people is complete and the components
are either acquired in advance of launch
or are purchased bits power can begin
the manufacturing process for this
before making the parts bits power uses
a scope that's hooked up to a computer
and then magnifies the component either
a motherboard or a video card and plots
coordinates and software a technician
uses physical wheels on the machines
reposition the board under the
magnifying glass then presses a button
on the keyboard to place a point on the
grid at the end of the process the
points can be used in software to begin
the design process for the block these
measurements are needed because the
topology of new boards is often
different and keep out zones need to be
established to avoid running into vrm
components or other service mount
devices there's only one of these
stations set up so each day is spent
measuring new boards and providing
coordinates to the 3d modelers upstairs
we asked if bits Power had any of the
laser measurement systems and we're told
that they might by next year but for now
they're still using these semi manual
means of measuring the sizing and height
requirement for all of the blocks the
neighboring depth gauge is for both
development and quality control this set
of midotaur equipment includes a
$200,000 NTD marble slab or about $6,600
USD we asked a clarifying question about
whether it's granite or marble since
grant its more common for this type of
thing but since we're not geologists we
had to rely on translation and that came
back as marble either way it's over 6
and it's only purpose in life is to be
flat perfectly flat or very nearly so
the slab is accompanied by a depth gauge
similar to our own although much more
expensive at $2,000 just for the data
logger the middle Toyo serve test SJ 210
the gauge itself uses a probe and test
the depth versus a known zero point to
check the levelness of a surface this
equipment is all expensive to buy but
it's also expensive to set
and trained for it needs to be tracked
routinely for accuracy and recalibrated
or at least recertified regularly like
most precision instruments would its
power uses this to check for level 'no
sub new product surfaces and the check
for engineering accuracy and also uses
it for production units bits power
checks roughly 30 to 40 pieces per 1000
units produced acting as another QC step
after the factory level functionality QC
steps and preceding the packaging level
visual QC step any QC failures are
thrown into the copper or aluminum
recycling bins and sold back to the
metal supplier for a rebate on the next
order we explained that in the previous
video but just as a recap a lot of this
processing has some form of waste and
fortunately most of it is a metal waste
so it's relatively easy to recycle since
it's not contaminated in the process of
manufacturing it's just cut down with
the excess removes from the stock block
that's purchased from a supplier and
then discard it into a bin all these are
bagged up and sold back to the supplier
for a discount and again that's at the
spot price for copper aluminum or
whatever the material may be plus the
agreements in place with the supplier
another station in this room is for
obstacle inspection of components
against known measurements from the
engineers the microscope is hooked up to
a backlight and a computer with CAD
files loaded to establish known
guidelines for acceptable variance in
manufacturing the equipment is used for
both quality control testing and for
pre-production planning as is all the
other equipment in this room and it's
only partially automated the computer
detects the outline in the product
silhouette under the magnifying glass
and on top of the light box and then
optically measures the dimensions of the
product without much human input in this
instance a fitting is being checked for
acceptable diameters and lengths the
machine has an error of 0.005
millimeters and the spec for acceptable
manufacturing tolerance was barred from
being shown on camera but a technician
cross-references the known guidance
against what's shown on the screen then
passes or fails the component obviously
there's a lot of trade secrets at these
places so we can't always show
everything but they have guidelines that
they follow and that's all you need to
know although hesitant
first we were able to work with bits
power to show some of the 3d modeling of
components prior to production after
taking initial scans of components
downstairs using the manual wheel
scrolling and dot placement solution the
technician sends the coordinates up to
the modelers upstairs who begin 3d
design in SolidWorks the company pulled
up one of its designs that had already
launched it to show us the models are
made to accommodate component clearances
and to ensure the right areas on the PCB
like MOSFETs or other power components
are all cleared from the time bits power
receives the board the company requires
about 14 days to design prototype and
test its cooler this is one of the major
benefits of doing everything in the
house if bits power worked with
third-party shops to manufacture its
blocks it has to wait weeks two months
on sampling stages because they'd have
to send it out to a factory work with
them on the design requirements and then
get a sample and then probably get at
least one more sample before moving
forward to production that takes a long
time instead the engineers can email
their files of the factory down the road
which is owned by bits power and then
drive by and pick it up later that day
this means that the company can rapidly
prototype designs and potentially make
multiple prototypes in a day then hook
them all up for thermal testing to
ensure the components are properly
contacted and cooled as we said in the
previous video it takes something like
25 minutes for a copper block to be made
for a CPU a GPU would take longer it's a
larger component but we didn't get
specifics on that since bit power wasn't
making any at the time we visited the
acrylic pieces take somewhere around 11
minutes to make for a CPU and so the
time to actually prototype something is
relatively short it would be reasonable
four bits power to make a couple
different versions and then hook up
thermal probes and run testing as
desired to make sure every part of the
board is cooled as needed
we asked bits power why it doesn't use
skiving like closed-loop cold plate
makers do and the company told us that
it's a waste of time for its product
according to bits power because of the
pressure created by the jet plate and
the flow path for the water the
additional service area of closer micro
fins enters diminishing returns and only
serves to drive up the defect rate which
would increase the price for everybody
including the customer
currently the Finns are about 0.3
millimeters apart and although the
company could make them closer with its
existing processes it has determined
that it's really better to just go with
something that it knows works well and
doesn't cause unnecessary defects and
unnecessarily long manufacturing time
while still providing what it thinks is
about the same benefit if you're curious
to see how toll plates are made for cl
CS or a iOS you can check one of our
other tours where we looked at deep cool
and cooler master factories where they
make the cold plates in-house for their
own coolers it's typically done with
skiving where a blade comes in and
pushes up bits of the copper into the
micro fin and follows this process
repeatedly for every one of the micro
fins in the block it takes a long time
to make a single unit and so the cost is
high even for a company at the scale of
Coolermaster which is one of the largest
cooling companies in the industry they
even make stuff for street lights for
example and so the time cost requirement
for a company like bits power or other
open-loop cooling solution companies is
significant it's one of the highest
costs outside of real estate in the
industry and machine time ultimately
needs to be controlled and in this case
it looks like 0.3 millimeters is about
what they're going with finally as
discussed in the previous video there's
one last QC process in the packaging
area where everything is checked by eye
so all this rnd equipment like the
service level Mis measurements and the
fitting dimensions checker that's used
for both design and for QC after the
development of the unit the factory
level they already have a couple of
checks involved where the technicians
will pull units out of the tray every 20
minutes or so and make sure everything
looks visually good and also check the
threads and the flush mnestheus of the
fittings contacting the plates but then
after it's packaged and sent to this
part of the headquarters testing is done
to look at things more precisely like
the tolerances the dimensions of the
unit and then of course the more visual
sense of things of just how does it look
when it came out so that's everything
for this setup for bits power you can
check our previous tour for the CNC the
machining side of things subscribe for
more to check out additional factory
tours coming up soon and you can go to
stored eye cameras access
or slash cameras Nexus 2
helps out directly in pain for trips
like this one thanks for watching and
we'll see you all next time

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