The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has published a patent application from Apple that states their intent to reinvent a cooling system known in the industry as an “ionic wind generator”.
From the Patently Apple article:
This type of cooling system doesn’t use a fan or heat sink. The problem with the current design however, is that it’s only able to cool limited areas within a computer or device. Apple’s reinvention of the ionic wind generator will allow the system to use specialty sensors and mechanisms to redirect cool air to various areas within a computer or device, as needed.
The system could cool down as many parts of a device as needed, so it could simultaneously cool down the CPU, GPU, and other components such as batteries, storage devices, and other components, but if a component is idle, it won’t waste energy trying to cool down that component. A smart cooling system.
Electronic systems can generate a lot of heat. a variety of cooling mechanisms are used to cool the systems. For systems such as personal computers, the cooling devices are primarily mechanical, such as electric fans and heat sinks.
An ionic wind generator generates airflow based on ionization of air molecules. Patently Apple writes: “A limitation of currently-proposed ionic wind generator cooling systems for such devices (and for other conventional cooling devices as well) is that the generated airflow, from a first electrode toward a second electrode is limited to a linear path which is essentially static, and thus could only cool a specific region of an electronic system; particularly, only the regions that are in, or immediately adjacent, the path of the airflow could be cooled.”
They continue: “Apple’s patent pending invention and solution identifies various embodiments of methods and apparatus for deflecting or redirecting a flow of ionized air, such as that generated by an ionic wind generator.”
The Patently Apple article goes in to much more detail about Apple’s solution than can be covered in this space, and I recommend reading it at length.