The assignee for this patent, patent number 8705233, is
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates in general to the field of information handling system cooling, and more particularly to a system and method for a portable information handling system thermal shield.
"As the value and use of information continues to increase, individuals and businesses seek additional ways to process and store information. One option available to users is information handling systems. An information handling system generally processes, compiles, stores, and/or communicates information or data for business, personal, or other purposes thereby allowing users to take advantage of the value of the information. Because technology and information handling needs and requirements vary between different users or applications, information handling systems may also vary regarding what information is handled, how the information is handled, how much information is processed, stored, or communicated, and how quickly and efficiently the information may be processed, stored, or communicated. The variations in information handling systems allow for information handling systems to be general or configured for a specific user or specific use such as financial transaction processing, airline reservations, enterprise data storage, or global communications. In addition, information handling systems may include a variety of hardware and software components that may be configured to process, store, and communicate information and may include one or more computer systems, data storage systems, and networking systems.
"When information handling systems were first developed, manufacturers typically built large box-shaped housings to hold the many components used to build an information handling system. Over time, manufacturers strove to reduce the size of information handling system housings so that their reduced footprint had less of an impact in an office or home environment. Eventually, portable information handling systems entered the market with housings sized so that an end user could carry the system while in use. Portable information handling systems initially tended to have reduced capabilities compared with desktop or tower information handling systems since the portable housing had to include a power source and integrated display. Manufacturers of portable information handling systems tended to use smaller and less capable components, which tended to have smaller footprints and reduced power consumption. However, increasing capabilities and decreasing size of components used to build information handling systems has led to greater capabilities in portable information handling systems. The improved capabilities of portable information handling systems has led to greater acceptance and usage of portable information handling systems so that end users have recently tended towards selecting portable systems as replacements for desktop and tower information handling systems.
"Manufacturers typically face two substantial challenges when incorporating more advanced components into portable housings so that portable information handling system performance approaches that of desktop and tower systems: power consumption and cooling. More powerful processing components tend to consume more power when performing increased numbers of calculations and thus reduce the time that portable information handling system can operate on internal power, such as a battery. More powerful processing components also tend to produce additional heat as a byproduct when performing increased numbers of calculations. Cooling components within a portable housing presents a challenge since the reduced size of the housing makes an effective cooling airflow difficult to achieve. Further, creating a substantial airflow through a portable housing uses additional power and tends to gather dust at the cooling vents through which the airflow travels, making the cooling airflow less efficient. One approach used to manage power consumption and heat is to throttle the operation of processing components, such as CPU operating speeds, so that less power is consumed and less heat created. However, throttling processing components reduces the operating capability of the information handling system. In some systems, heat generated by processing components, even in a throttled state, can make a portable information handling system uncomfortable for an end user to hold in his lap. End users sometimes place a heat barrier beneath the portable information handling system to protect their lap from this heat, such as pads, bases or shields that insulate a user's lap from the heat of the information handling system chassis. Some examples of insulating pads include the Belkin Laptop Cooling Stand, the Targus Notebook Chill Mat, the Zalman NC 1000-B Notebook Cooler and the Belkin Laptosh Cush Case."
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Therefore a need has arisen for a system and method which manages information handling system performance based on whether a barrier protects an end user from heat produced by the information handling system.
"A further need exists for a system and method which selectively couples and decouples a thermal barrier to an information handling system.
"In accordance with the present invention, a system and method are provided which substantially reduce the disadvantages and problems associated with previous methods and systems for managing information handling system performance. Coupling and uncoupling of a thermal barrier to an information handling system is detected to select thermal parameters for managing cooling within the information handling system.
"More specifically, a thermal manager operating in firmware of an information handling system, such as the BIOS, sets thermal parameters for managing cooling within the chassis of the information handling system based on detection of coupling or uncoupling of a thermal barrier to the bottom of the chassis by a thermal barrier attachment detector. If a thermal barrier is coupled to the base of the information handling system chassis, the thermal manager selects thermal parameters that allow a higher temperature within the chassis than is allowed without a thermal barrier. The higher internal temperature allows the cooling fan to rotate at a slower speed and the CPU to operate at a greater clock speed since the thermal barrier will protect against passage of excess thermal energy from the bottom of the information handling system chassis to an end user. Operating the cooling fan at slower rotation speeds reduces dust and other contaminants from building up within the cooling subsystem of the information handling system so that the cooling subsystem operates more efficiently for a greater lifetime. Cooling system lifetime efficiency is further extended by including a filter in the thermal barrier.
"In another embodiment, a thermal barrier is selectively coupled and decoupled with an information handling system chassis to selectively provide increased thermal insulation at the bottom of the information handling system. The thermal barrier has a base and four sides that form an air channel between the base and the bottom surface of the information handling system. A vent formed in a side or the base of the thermal barrier accepts airflow into the air channel which directs the airflow to a vent of the information handling system. A cooling fan operating in the information handling system pulls air through the air channel help to keep the base of the thermal barrier cool. In one embodiment, the bottom surface of the information handling system chassis has a conductive material to conducts thermal energy to the air channel. In an alternative embodiment, a heat transfer mechanism extends through the bottom surface of the chassis and into the air channel to aid in the transfer of thermal energy from within the chassis. If conductive material is exposed within the air channel, the thermal barrier integrates with the chassis as a contiguous piece so that an end user will not be exposed to excessive thermal energy by inadvertent removal of the thermal barrier. The sides of the thermal barrier seal against the chassis to help direct the cooling airflow from the thermal barrier vent to the cooling fan vent.
"The present invention provides a number of important technical advantages. One example of an important technical advantage is that information handling system performance is selectively increased if a barrier is detected that protects an end user from heat created by the information handling system. By increasing allowed operating temperatures, processing component performance may increase for a better end user experience and cooling subsystem operations may decrease for reduced acoustic noise and power consumption, such as by running a cooling fan at a lower speed. Reduced cooling fan operating speeds reduce build of dust in vents for improved long term operations of the information handling system. The ability to detect a heat barrier and adjust cooling subsystem operations accordingly allows information handling systems to be built smaller, thinner and lighter, giving end users the option of attaching a heat barrier if greater system performance is desired.
"Another example of an important technical advantage is that an end user selectively couples and decouples the thermal barrier with the chassis as desired to protect the bottom surface of the information handling system from excess heat or to maintain a compact form. The air channel improves overall system cooling while reducing thermal energy exposure in areas proximate to an end user. The cooling channel provides an elegant and smooth exterior form for the information handling system and also provides additional room to add desired features, such as a larger cooling fan or additional stiffening for a stronger system housing. The additional cooling and reduced release of thermal energy at the bottom surface of an information handling system is accomplished with minimal additional height and without powered components, such as additional fans. A thermal barrier can be added at other areas of the information handling system where excessive thermal energy is found, such as a palm rest."
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