VAIO SX14: Developers Discuss the Evolution of VAIO TruePerformance

Same as before was never good enough from the VAIO you expect and deserve

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Shuji Eguchi
PC Division PC Design Department Project Leader Section Project Leader
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Hiroshi Hisatomi
PC Division Technical Unit Mechanical Design Division Chief Thermal Engineer
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Shuichi Yanagisawa
PC Division PC Design Department Electrical Design Division Electrical Project Leader
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Katsunori Itakura
PC Division PC Design Department Electrical Design Division Electrical Engineer

New model with maximized performance

Rumors are that "VAIO TruePerformance®" in the VAIO SX14 has evolved. Can you tell us what enhancements we can look forward to?

Shuji Eguchi, Project leader: This time the VAIO SX14 has the same 8th generation Intel Core processor as the VAIO S13, but the microarchitecture has been updated to the latest programming model. However, it has evolved by improving the “maximum performance” which can be attained for short periods of time, while the “sustainable performance” has hardly changed. (Refer to the concept diagram below.) In other words, if you were to apply VAIO TruePerformance® without the update, there would be no improved performance.

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If you don’t think that sounds like VAIO, just remember with VAIO SX14 our aim was to keep “sustainable performance” at a high level by furthering the evolution of VAIO TruePerformance®.

sx14-engineering article-2-7 This diagram is a conceptual diagram, which is different from the actual operation

With that said, however, since the thermal design of the conventional model adversely affected the line of limit margins, it was necessary to maximize the exhaust heat performance to realize the evolution of VAIO TruePerformance®.

How much has the heat value risen specifically?

Hiroshi Hisatomi, Heat Design: The power consumption when applying VAIO TruePerformance® in the VAIO SX14 went up about 25% so heat exhaust capacity had to increase accordingly. However, since these are familiar issues from previous challenges, we are testing the limits of what countermeasures can be applied this time.

In this case, we changed the shape of the bottom metal sheet by cutting the part just beneath the cooling fan. The space around the fan in the conventional model was quite narrow which suppressed the exhaust heat capacity. We were able to increase the amount of heated air sent out by several percentages by expanding the space beneath the fan by one sheet.

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The exhaust sponge material was changed to reduce air leakage and ensure the amount discharged was increased. We also reconfigured the exhaust pipe which now allows for an additional escape route for heat generated by the CPU. The decision to change the heat receiving plate to copper for higher thermal conductivity and adding a few millimeters of thickness to the exhaust pipe may have upset other team members. [laughs]

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To improve the flow of air around the can shield which blocks noise emitted by the CPU, etc., and the corner opening on the can shield has also been expanded, which is a difficult manufacturing process. Doing this alone will only change the internal temperature a little bit, but we knew these were the small measures we had to undertake to realize the new VAIO TruePerformance®.

So you have literally had to cut corners to think outside the box.

Hisatomi: Well, the goal of good thermal design is not to just let internal heat escape from the device. We also have to figure out how to stop heat radiation so that the device remains comfortably tactile for the use.

For example, referring back to how the sheet metal under the cooling fan was cut, the internal heat transference issue was reduced by making a rectifying plate to diffuse air in front of the cooling fan. With this little change in the flow of hot air, the surface temperature increase was prevented.

sx14-engineering article-2-10 sx14-engineering article-2-11 Images of VAIO SX 14's diffuser (top) installed in front of the cooling fan and its verification thermographic experiment (bottom). You can see that the diffuser is preventing the hot spot from forming on the bottom.

We also blocked the hole where heat had escaped near the bottom of the sheet metal support assembly that had been vacant in the conventional model. Thermal protection was also placed around screw holes to prevent heat from passing through the screws themselves.

5 volt accessible charging

Besides CPU in the VAIO SX14, what other components are realizing higher TruePerformance® values despite problems with heat dissipation?

Eguchi: We realized from the start that the considerable heat generated by adding the USB Type-C ™ terminal in the VAIO A12 was going to be huge hurdle in creating our first prototype.

Katsunori Itakura, Electrical Design: When using a 5V assisted charged on the USB Type-C ™ terminal, the power increase is internal and it generates quite a bit of heat. To resolve this issue on the VAIO SX14 we installed a hybrid charger that uses the conventional charger system which was adopted by the VAIO A12.

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Yanagisawa, Electrical Project Leader: By the way, the kind of challenges in realizing 5V assisted charge function with the CPU adopted by VAIO A12 and realizing with higher power consumption CPU adopted by VAIO SX14 are completely different. This time, we had to clear the very difficult problem of suppressing heat generation while also supporting 5V charging while supplying stable power to the high performance CPU.

On that point, the new hybrid charger has the ability to assist directly from the battery when the CPU needs more power. And unlike the conventional charger installed in the VAIO A12, we recognized a problem with heat generation since it doesn’t pass through the booster circuit.

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If the VAIO SX14’s CPU consumes more power than the VAIO A12, it the 5V assisted charge function still useful? Wouldn’t more power be consumed than has been assisted?

Itakura: No. Regardless of the enhancements to VAIO TruePerformance®, VAIO SX 14 is designed for energy saving overall. Let’s say your general usage is for web browsing, word processing, spreadsheet software, etc., it is supposed to assist just enough. If you have forgotten the AC adapter on a business trip you can get by purchasing a smartphone charger which are sold in convenience stores and get a full charge overnight.

Achieving maximum VAIO TruePerformance® levels

Finally, tell us what the final numbers were for achieving VAIO TruePerformance® despite these challenges.

Eguchi: With the Core i7 model, application of VAIO TruePerformance® enabled a benchmark score improvement of about 25% compared to non-application cases. Even when compared with VAIO S13's Core i7 model, it has been accelerated by 10% or more. By doing this, you can feel a difference with many usual operations as well as heavy work such as extensive calculation in Excel and video editing.

Eguchi: Applying VAIO TruePerformance® to the Core i7 model saw a benchmark score improvement of about 25% compared to non-application cases. Even when compared to the VAIO S13’s Core i7 model it has been accelerated by 10% or more. Users can feel the effects in their regular daily use as well operations that more power like video editing and complicated Excel spreadsheets.

It was worth the effort!

Eguchi: Like the VAIO S13, the VAIO SX14 was made for users who want a mobile laptop as their main device with access to desktop-level performance outside the office. For those users, the performance achieved by VAIO TruePerformance® is well-suited. We are confident that business people who need to maximize their hard work at any location and students with a heavy research load will surely be satisfied.

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(Originally published January 17, 2019 on