Fanless Computers: Progress in Silence and Longevity

Fanless Computers: Progress in Silence and Longevity

Prior to the mid 70s, computers were typically very large industrial or commercial machines, often housed in a dedicated room with an equally sized cooling system. Noise was not a notable issue for users because the computers were isolated industrial devices, viewed much like any other heavy duty machinery. The first personal/home computers that emerged in the 80s were quite low in power and could be run fanless, or with a low-speed fan that was used to cool only the power supply. However, as technology evolved and CPU clock speeds increased, the internals of computers started heating up and cooling was accomplished using a fan over the CPU heatsink, blowing air directly onto the processor. More years progressed and more fans were added to cases to provide cooling where heat dissipation was needed most, now including high powered graphics cards and power supplies.

Computer cases increasingly needed more fans to extract heat and this invariably meant more noise and potential for failure. Where there is air circulation, there a huge chance of dust and particle buildup. A normal ceiling fan is an excellent example; left long enough without a cleaning, massive amounts of dust will gather on the blades naturally. Similarly, computer cases are a magnet to collections of dust and contaminants that collect in the case and negate any cooling effects the fans may have. At some point, the fan is overworked and fails or the heat buildup causes other components to fail.

The claim to the world’s first noiseless and fanless computer case came in 2004 with Zalman’s Totally No Noise (TNN) series.  This case was large, heavy, and expensive, but soon other manufacturers were following suit in developing and improving on fanless computers for quieter, dust-free operation. The demand for fanless and cleaner computers was clearly seen from the public. It’s been a long evolution to get fanless computers to meet performance needs, maintain a cool environment, and also be cost-effective, but Tangent’s line of rugged fanless PCs hits the mark at every point.

Take the Tangent Rugged G mini PC for example; it was designed to handle 12, 19, or 24V DC system power input and wide temperature operation, making ideal for dedicated video display or mobile computing. The Rugged G’s fanless design is essential for dusty environments.The fanless computer case is sturdy and has a fin-like surface that dissipates heat from the inside. The tested operating temperature on the Rugged G is 14°F to an incredible 131°F (-10° – 55°C). With no moving parts and an excellent performance record, the days of dust bunnies clogging up pivotal and expensive computer parts are long gone. The unit comes with a VESA 75/100 adapter plate and wall mounting brackets, offering a multitude of installation options on any work surface. A wide range of connectivity options also comes standard on this Rugged fanless computer. It is equipped with 4 COM ports, 6 USB ports, a Digital I/O port, and can be set up with optional Intel Wireless AC-7260 and Bluetooth. The desire for and development of noiseless, dustless, fanless computers have long been in play, but Tangent certainly has perfected their craft in the business.

 

Benefits of a Fanless PC

fanlessblog

Benefits of Fanless Computers

 

With durable, fanless construction, most of our Mini Rugged PCs provide quiet and reliable operation. Fanless computers are ideal for critical care environments, hospitals, nurseries, or anywhere that noise is a consideration. The primary function of a fan in a computer system is to cool down the internal components and prevent overheating. Fanless computers use alternative cooling methods and lower-powered components that give off less heat. The result, is computers that are silent and energy efficient. Most fanless computers are typically more compact like Mini PCs. In business settings, these qualities are often highly valued. Fanless computers can promote dust free environments, because without the presence of a fan there is no opportunity for dust to be collected and further distributed throughout the environment th. This quality is also beneficial in hospitals as it helps prevent the spread of airborne particles. Fanless computers are ideal for chip manufacturing facilities as they can help meet minimum requirements of dust per air ratios.

Silent Operation

The loudest part of a computer is typically the fan. When fans are removed and solid state hard drives are added, up to 99% of the audible noise is eliminated, Components such as solid state hard drives have no moving parts; making them inherently silent and reliable – the perfect partner for a fanless computer. A silent operating fanless computer is beneficial in a wide range of applications: libraries, laboratories. operating rooms, recording studios,  or other environments where sound (or the limitation of sound) is critical.

Small Size

Many fanless computers are often designed to be compact. Without a fan, the need for air around components used for cooling is unnecessary. As such, the internal parts of the computer can be placed closely together without overheating. The small size of fanless computers allow them to be mounted in compact spaces making them ideal for offices. They are capable of fitting underneath desks and tables. When size is a consideration, a fanless computer can be an excellent choice.

 

Energy Efficient

A fanless computer is often built with energy efficiency in mind. No fans mean the computer components must waste little power and generate minimal heat. Therefore, fanless computers use less power and reduce energy cost. For businesses running a large number of computers simultaneously, fanless computers result in significant savings.

 

Reliability

Some Tangent fanless computers are compact and offer a sealed chassis making them more robust. Many fanless computers are rated for shock and vibrations making them suitable for in-vehicle applications. Fanless computers are often designed to withstand extreme temperatures or exposure to different elements. Fanless computers are not threatened by dust and moisture the way classic computers are. This equates to less maintenance and longer lasting durability. With fewer moving parts and internal connections the margin for malfunction is virtually eliminated in many applications including harsh environments.

Mini PCs for Industrial Use

f15Mini PCs for Industrial Use

When deciding whether to buy a Mini PC, you may feel some hesitancy comparing it to a full size PC. Although the size may be attractive, there may be some questions in your mind about what their capabilities are.  You may be surprised to learn about their versatility and wide range of power and capacities Tangent’s Mini PCs have.

With fifteen Mini Pcs (and more to come) to choose from, our Mini PCs can be utilized in a wide variety of industries and applications. Our Rugged E3 Mini PC is able to withstand temperatures of -13 degrees up to 185 degrees. This Mini PC is fanless and provides noise-free operation. Rated for shock & vibration,, designed with removable drive bays and RAID support, the Rugged E3 is an ideal Mini PC for video surveillance and video capture POE. The TPM and watchdog timer enhance functionality.

RUGGED E3Rugged E3

 

Our Rugged S is slightly larger than a standard pencil. It meets medical grade UL60601-1 requirements and is ideal for healthcare or industrial applications. With optional multiple ISO ports, the Rugged S can be configured to meet the needs of critical care environments. The Rugged S is fanless and provides noise-free operation. It also comes with an Available Full PCIe Slot which can be configured with optional 4KV isolated card for high voltage insulation, making this model ideal for healthcare environments.

rugged-mini-s Rugged S

At 1.53 pounds and dimensions of 4.57″ x 4.33″ x 1.93″, our Rugged Q is lightweight and has an ultra mini form factor. This desirable computer is easy to mount and install in a variety of environments. With a wide input power of 9 to 24V DC and VESA 75/100 Mounting, wall mounting brackets and DIN rail mounting this Mini PC offers versatile connectivity and mounting options. Standard with two LANs, one RS232, four USB ports, and two HDMI connectivity is not an issue for this Mini PC.

rugged-qRugged Q

Our complete line of Rugged Mini PC’s can be used for in-vehicle, defense, factories, mills and healthcare applications. They can also be mounted on mobile carts, used for surveillance  and for digital signage. Tangent’s Mini PCs are capable of performing similar to their larger counterparts, at times even surpassing larger PCs. Our available Mini PCs our designed to meet your industry needs. The question is not if they have have the power to perform. The question is which Mini PC best suits your specific needs.

Fanless Computers: Still Running Cool!

Fanless Computers: Still running cool!

 

Making a computer with a single fan is good engineering, making them fanless is an art. TANGENT offers fanless computers which are reliable and robust to meet your demanding requirements of ruggedness and performance.

What are major problems with the fans that require us to build fanless computers?

  • Noise: Fans produce noise during normal operation. As the installed system becomes older, the fan becomes nosier. In some applications, noise above a certain level is unacceptable.
  • Maintenance: Fans suck in dirt and clog the filters. This requires frequent cleaning of filters. In certain embedded systems, access to the computer for maintenance is not feasible. Problem of choking of filters exacerbates if the computer in installed in a dusty environment.
  • Failure: A fan is a moving part, with an electric motor. This can fail, resulting in overheating of the computer and eventual system shutdown or even total system failure.

Fanless computer eliminates these problems completely. The computer becomes quieter, becomes more robust and requires less maintenance.

Why are fans required in computers anyway? Well, computers need a lot of processing power that requires high-performance components, especially the CPU. These components generate a lot of heat. If this heat is not removed rapidly and continuously, the system will over-heat and will eventually fail. Fans provide an easy and cheap way to remove this generated heat by blowing air across the hot components and out of the computer casing, keeping the temperature inside the computer within the acceptable limits.

However, the limitations of fans in a dusty environment are significant and in certain application, noise is a major issue. To minimize noise generated by fans and reduce heat generation, various techniques such as; variable and low-speed fans with efficient CPU heat sinks, logic to slow down or shutdown the CPU when not in active use are incorporated. However, the best way to remove the fan-related problems is to remove the fan altogether, replacing it with an alternate heat removal system.

A computer with a good performance is simple to build, but a fanless computer requires a good design. Heat load is carefully calculated and the heat removal system is designed to match the heat load in worst case operating conditions. A system of heatpipes is used to remove the unwanted heat out of the system.

Heatpipes are made of copper or copper alloy, capable of transferring a large amount of heat. Inside the heatpipe there is liquid under low pressure that boils into vapor when it absorbs heat. This vapor then condenses back into liquid at the cooler surfaces of the heatpipe and releases the heat. Heat is taken from the CPU by one end of the heatpipe, and transferred to the other end of the heatpipe in contact with a larger heat sink, which is the Aluminum casing of the computer system. This casing comes in contact with the ambient air and thus dissipates the heat in the air, thereby cooling the system.

TANGENT’s Fanless Rugged Mini PC line is designed with industrial and military grade components and specifications for reliable operation under a demanding environment which require reliable and noiseless operation.

Model Rugged S is specially designed for use in industrial and medical applications. It can be used in mobile medical carts, anesthesia module and display systems. It provides optional ISO ports to meet the needs of Critical Care environments.

Model Rugged S meets rugged design specifications and medical UL60601-1 certification. It comes with built-in watchdog timer for automatic re-start on a non-fatal system fault, optional 4k V Isolation card for patient protection, and an optional TPM for added security.

ruggeds MINI RUGGED S

TANGENTS’s newest model Rugged G is also a fanless computer, designed to handle 12, 19, or 24V DC system power input, a wide range of operating temperatures, and can be installed in a variety of industrial environments.

rUGGED-g-MINI-PC Rugged G

Rugged G’s fanless design is ideal for dusty factory floors and offers a lot of installations options for wall or DIN rail mounting. 4 COM ports, 6 USB ports, and a Digital I/O port, provide maximum connectivity from this rugged industrial Mini PC. Rugged G can operate in extreme operating temperature range of 14° to 131°F (-10° to – 55°C).

The Surgical Environment and Noise-free Computers: A Complimentary Pair

 

Tangent’s fanless medical computers contain advanced cooling technology and SSD storage providing noise-free operation. While a silent computer is convenient and desirable, there are specific environments where the noise-free feature is not just a nice commodity, but also a requisite. This article covers the applications of noise-free computers in surgical environments.

 

Operating Rooms: Medical industries are highly dynamic environments filled with technological devices and people. Reducing noise pollution is a continuous common goal that improves the flow of the medical workplace. While silent devices are needed throughout health facilities, none is more important than the operating room, which carries with it the reputation of irrefutable respect- with reason.

Operation outcomes can be the determining factor of life or death. Open-heart surgery, liver transplants, and intestine transplants are just a few high-stake procedures that occur in the OR. Surgeon concentration is of utmost importance as is that of the entire OR team, often comprised of nurses, surgical technicians and anesthesiologists.

While music has proven to increase workflow by setting a nice pace and easing the tension of the surgical environment, distractions must be kept to a minimum. Unnecessary, obtrusive noise has no place in surgical environments and thus is why silent computers make the list of must-haves in them.

Post-Operative Patient Care: While the act of performing surgery is the high-pressured climax of a surgical environment, proper post-operative care is vital to ensure the hard work performed during surgery is successful. Sleep and rest assist to ensure proper post-operative healing. Among the concerns of post-operative patients, sensitivity to light, sound and smells top the list. So while proper functioning computers hold insurmountable value to patient care both in and out of surgery, the ability to do so silently shares equal merit.

Tangent noise-free computers are the perfect pair for the surgical environment delivering silent operation and optimizing sterility. Fanless in design, noise-free computers maintain a sterile environment because the elimination of a fan prevents the circulation of dust particles and airborne debris. The ventless enclosure of our noise-free, fanless computers means zero maintenance ensuring the surgical team can focus on what matters most: patient care.