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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Electronic Apparatus Capable of Controlling Flow Rate of Air from Cooling Fan, Method of Controlling the...

June 18, 2014



Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Electronic Apparatus Capable of Controlling Flow Rate of Air from Cooling Fan, Method of Controlling the Same, and Storage Medium", for Approval

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor KITORA, Masakazu (Kawasaki-shi, JP), filed on November 26, 2013, was made available online on June 5, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Canon Kabushiki Kaisha.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to an electronic apparatus that is capable of controlling a flow rate of air from a cooling fan, a method of controlling the same, and a storage medium.

"A demand for quietness of PCs and various types of image processing apparatuses has come to increase, and there has been known a technique that variably controls the flow rate of air from a fan by switching between full speed and half speed according to an operation mode of an apparatus (see Japanese Patent No. 3048947).

"The image processing apparatus includes a controller that performs control using semiconductor devices, such as a CPU and an ASIC, and hence it is necessary to cool the controller so as to prevent the controller from becoming faulty or developing a malfunction due to generated heat or increased apparatus temperature.

"Temperature characteristics of a semiconductor in a semiconductor device can be very different between individual units thereof. Further, various kinds of apparatuses using the semiconductor device are expected to be used in various environments.

"FIGS. 10A and 10B show graphs of temperature characteristics of two individual CPUs, by way of example. As shown in the graph of the temperature characteristics in FIG. 10A, CPU A has temperature characteristics in which the temperature thereof operating under a predetermined load reaches a state of equilibrium without rising to the limit of a device operation-guaranteed temperature. On the other hand, as shown in the graph of the temperature characteristics in FIG. 10B, CPU B has the temperature characteristics in which the temperature thereof operating under a predetermined load becomes higher than the limit of the device operation-guaranteed temperature.

"Further, FIGS. 11A and 11B show temperature characteristics of the same CPU when used under two respective different operational environments. As is apparent from FIGS. 11A and 11B, there is such a difference in temperature characteristics that the temperature of the CPU is within the limit of the device operation-guaranteed temperature under an environment in which the temperature is around 25.degree. C., whereas the temperature of the CPU becomes higher than the limit of the device operation-guaranteed temperature under an environment in which the temperature is around 35.degree. C.

"In a case where the fan is controlled by estimating load on the CPU based on the operating mode of the apparatus as in the conventional apparatus, when the apparatus is in an operation mode under such load as will cause the temperature of the CPU B shown in FIG. 10B to rise to the limit of the device operation-guaranteed temperature, or in an operation mode under such load as will cause the temperature of the CPU under the environment at 35.degree. C. as shown in FIG. 11B to rise beyond the limit of the device operation-guaranteed temperature, it is necessary to control the temperature such that the temperature of the CPU from is prevented from exceeding the device operation-guaranteed temperature e.g. by increasing the flow rate of air from the fan.

"However, the conventional control increases the flow rate of air from the fan even for the CPU A having excellent temperature characteristics or the CPU under the environment at 25.degree. C., the temperature of neither of which increases to the limit of the device operation-guaranteed temperature, causing degradation of quietness of the apparatus. Thus, the conventional technique has a problem that fan control is not always properly performed."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "The present invention provides an electronic apparatus that is capable of properly controlling a cooling fan according to characteristics of a semiconductor device included in the electronic apparatus, a method of controlling the same, and a storage medium.

"In a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided an electronic apparatus that includes a semiconductor device and is capable of controlling a flow rate of air from a fan for cooling the semiconductor device, comprising a measurement unit configured to measure temperature characteristics indicative of a degree of increase in temperature of the semiconductor device, and a control unit configured to control the fan to operate at a predetermined air flow rate in a case where a result of the temperature characteristics measurement by the measurement unit indicates a degree of increase in temperature not smaller than a predetermined reference value, and control the fan to operate at an air flow rate lower than the predetermined air flow rate in a case where the measurement result indicates a degree of increase in temperature smaller than the predetermined reference value.

"In a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of controlling an electronic apparatus that includes a semiconductor device and is capable of controlling a flow rate of air from a fan for cooling the semiconductor device, comprising measuring temperature characteristics indicative of a degree of increase in temperature of the semiconductor device, and controlling the fan to operate at a predetermined air flow rate in a case where a result of the temperature characteristics measurement by said measuring indicates a degree of increase in temperature not smaller than a predetermined reference value, and controlling the fan to operate at an air flow rate lower than the predetermined air flow rate in a case where the result of the temperature characteristics measurement indicates a degree of increase in temperature smaller than the predetermined reference value.

"In a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a non-transitory computer-readable storage medium storing a computer-executable program for executing a method of controlling an electronic apparatus that includes a semiconductor device and is capable of controlling a flow rate of air from a fan for cooling the semiconductor device, wherein the method comprises measuring temperature characteristics indicative of a degree of increase in temperature of the semiconductor device, and controlling the fan to operate at a predetermined air flow rate in a case where a result of the temperature characteristics measurement by said measuring indicates a degree of increase in temperature not smaller than a predetermined reference value, and controlling the fan to operate at an air flow rate lower than the predetermined air flow rate in a case where the result of the temperature characteristics measurement indicates a degree of increase in temperature smaller than the predetermined reference value.

"According to the present invention, it is possible to provide an electronic apparatus that is capable of properly controlling a cooling fan according to characteristics of a semiconductor device included in the electronic apparatus, a method of controlling the same, and a storage medium.

"Further features of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of exemplary embodiments with reference to the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an image processing apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention.

"FIG. 2 is a state transition diagram of the image processing apparatus shown in FIG. 1.

"FIGS. 3A and 3B are diagrams useful in explaining a temperature slope.

"FIG. 4 is a flowchart of a temperature slope-based temperature characteristic measurement process executed by a system controller appearing in FIG. 1.

"FIG. 5 is a state transition diagram of the image processing apparatus in a case where a flag FAN_CONT is determined based on the temperature slope.

"FIG. 6 is a flowchart of an elapsed time-based temperature characteristic measurement process executed by the system controller appearing in FIG. 1.

"FIG. 7 is a flowchart of a periodical temperature slope-based temperature characteristic measurement process periodically executed by the system controller appearing in FIG. 1 in a standby state.

"FIG. 8 is a state transition diagram of the image processing apparatus in a case where the flag FAN_CONT is periodically determined.

"FIG. 9 is a state transition diagram of the image processing apparatus in a case where a loaded condition of the system controller is used.

"FIGS. 10A and 10B are temperature characteristic graphs showing temperature characteristics of respective different individual CPUs.

"FIGS. 11A and 11B are temperature characteristic graphs showing temperature characteristics of the same CPU under different operational environments."

For additional information on this patent application, see: KITORA, Masakazu. Electronic Apparatus Capable of Controlling Flow Rate of Air from Cooling Fan, Method of Controlling the Same, and Storage Medium. Filed November 26, 2013 and posted June 5, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=4490&p=90&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140529.PD.&OS=PD/20140529&RS=PD/20140529

Keywords for this news article include: Electronics, Semiconductor, Canon Kabushiki Kaisha.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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