Noise cancellation technique harnesses magnets to silence CPU fans [video]

By on June 17, 2013, 2:00 PM

Whether they want to be or not, many PC enthusiasts are well-acclimated to noisy fans; however, some choose quiet operation over impressive overclocking. Of course, that's exactly the problem: quietness traditionally comes at the cost of performance. Noctua's "ANC project" though aims to deliver both desires by adapting active noise cancellation -- not unlike the ANC found in headphones and audio software -- for use on high-speed cooling fans. 

According to Noctua, one possible result is a generous 80-percent bump in airflow without any increase in fan noise. The company's current prototype is NH-D14 heatsink plus a NF-F14 140mm FocusedFlow fan retrofitted with RotoSub's noise cancellation technology.

So, how exactly is noise cancellation applied to a fan? The company's implementation consists of a microphone-equipped heatsink, an electromagnetic coil and fan blades outfited with magnetic tips. Fan noise is largely an inevitable byproduct of vibration and movement; essentially, less vibration means less noise. As a fan generates noise, the heatsink's integrated microphone captures the unwanted sound. The noisy waveform is inverted and physically applied as an opposing magnetic field which acts to counterbalance noise-causing vibrations. The result is a quiet fan that hardly vibrates during operation.

Noctua and RotoSub partnered up last year to create such an ANC-capable cooler. Although Noctua has yet to set a launch date, it has made some strides over the past year on its not-quite-finished prototype. "Middle of 2014" seems to be the most recent target date though. The company has released a new video demonstration of the technology which shows the dramatic difference ANC can make on an otherwise noisy fan.

CPU fans often account for a substantial amount of system noise; however, with technologies like water cooling on the market there already exist products which effectively reduce CPU fan noise. It's unclear how Noctua's ANC HSF will fare against such solutions in terms of price and effectiveness. Also, top-shelf graphics cards generate a ton of heat and come standard with powerful but noisy cooling systems. If RotoSub's ANC technology is to be effective, Noctua will need to roll out solution for GPUs as well.




User Comments: 23

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1 person liked this | treeski treeski said:

This would be really cool, and hopefully won't come at an outrageous price.

cmbjive said:

How come no one has figure out a way to implement Dyson's bladeless fan technology for CPU and card cooling?

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Reminds me of a quote from The Bucket List...

Carter: Wow! What else does it do?

Edward: What else does it have to do?

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm guessing the video should work. Or is it simply my low market share web browser Opera at fault?

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

It may be a while before we see it released for general consumption by the public.

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

How come no one has figure out a way to implement Dyson's bladeless fan technology for CPU and card cooling?

Those fans do have blades they're just in the pedestal. [link]

This could be awesome technology, but as the article mentions they'll have to figure out something for the GPU too. Perhaps they can separate the noise cancelling tech from the fan and make a stand alone contraption to put in a PC. maybe in a 5.25in drive bay?

1 person liked this | tehbanz tehbanz said:

I'm guessing the video should work. Or is it simply my low market share web browser Opera at fault?

Not working in chrome either.

stbecker said:

A built-in mic on a fan plus magnets on each blade that use a physically applied magnetic field to counteract noise. Ya, that's probably going to cost a little bit. Look how much more it is (than a stock fan) just to push water around in a case to cool things off.

I agree with the solution needing to address the GPU as well since those suckers can be annoyingly loud too. My thought would be to have a central/combined cooling unit in the concept more like the power supply -- a single source that addresses the whole. I do understand that requires a pretty big shift in how PCs are currently built.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Video feed fixed

Guest said:

Dyson's "bladeless" tech does not generate much static pressure like you need to push air through a heat exchangers fins. Might work better for moving air through a low restriction design case.

JC713 JC713 said:

I hope this is cheap enough.

Chazz said:

A built-in mic on a fan plus magnets on each blade that use a physically applied magnetic field to counteract noise. Ya, that's probably going to cost a little bit. Look how much more it is (than a stock fan) just to push water around in a case to cool things off.

I agree with the solution needing to address the GPU as well since those suckers can be annoyingly loud too. My thought would be to have a central/combined cooling unit in the concept more like the power supply -- a single source that addresses the whole. I do understand that requires a pretty big shift in how PCs are currently built.

You mean something like a radiator? This would be nice for your radiator fans.

Seventh Reign Seventh Reign said:

This would be really cool, and hopefully won't come at an outrageous price.

Hello? This is Noctua .... it'll cost no less than $80

Guest said:

They have a speaker to make that loud sound... then they turn it off and everyone is like wow...

ypsylon said:

Great I take two noise dampeners for ridiculously noisy MSI TF 7950.

avoidz avoidz said:

Seems like a great idea.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Nice news! Hopefully this can be designed into other fans, GPU coolers included.

fimbles fimbles said:

How come no one has figure out a way to implement Dyson's bladeless fan technology for CPU and card cooling?

Those fans do have blades they're just in the pedestal. [link]

This could be awesome technology, but as the article mentions they'll have to figure out something for the GPU too. Perhaps they can separate the noise cancelling tech from the fan and make a stand alone contraption to put in a PC. maybe in a 5.25in drive bay?

You burst my bubble... I always thought they worked on some kind of "ion thruster" technology.

Emexrulsier said:

Solid state fans (yes google it) is a fan with NO moving parts first revealed like 5 years ago I would like to see these in production let alone focusing development on current tech.

Leeky Leeky said:

That is rather awesome, I also hope it doesn't come with too high a price.

1 person liked this | cmbjive said:

Those fans do have blades they're just in the pedestal. [link]

.....Next you'll be telling me my Dyson vacuum cleaner actually has a bag on it.

Party pooper.

Jbucko said:

I hope they come out with a kit for radiator fans.

stonarda said:

How come no one has figure out a way to implement Dyson's bladeless fan technology for CPU and card cooling?

The fanless technology isn't entirely true... There is a fan at the base of the big round thing and this pumps air around the circle which travels through vents on a certain side. This creates a 'pull effect', making more air go through the loop.

*edit, sorry this has already been said

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