Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,239,598) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for the cooling system in the iMac. Dubbed “thermal architecture,” it’s for an apparatus for cooling a unibody computing device with obscured inlet and outlet vents.
According to the invention, inlet vents are arranged on a bottom surface of the unibody computing device and then exhaust air is vented out from a rear surface of the computing device. The rear vents can be obscured by a stand designed to support the weight of the computing device. By venting exhaust air to either side of the support stand exhaust air can be prevented from being drawn back into the inlet vents to avoid overheating.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that most computing devices generate enough heat to require some form of active cooling process in order to dissipate the heat and prevent overheating conditions in the device. One way devices are kept cool is by circulating air into and out of computing device enclosures. Circulation of air generally requires at least two holes or apertures to be situated somewhere along the surface of the computing device enclosure.
Such holes or apertures are typically referred to as vents and at least two are needed so that air can come in one vent and exit through another. Generally, a device would include a series of inlet vents and a series of outlet vents. Apple says that “unfortunately,” these arrays of vents can mar the overall look and appearance of the computing device enclosure and what’s needed is a concealed vent configuration that allows an accompanying heat removal system to reject enough heat to keep the computing device from overheating.