Replace the heatsink with something that is most lightweight

Hi !

I would like to use the TX2 Jetson in a drone. And removing the heatsink that makes 1/4 of the weight would reduce the mass of the drone.

Would it be possible to replace the fan and the heatsink with something lighter?

Thank you :)

It depends on how hard you will work the device. If you run in the “Most power efficient” configuration, it will draw up to 8 Watts, which means you can get away with a thinner heatsink and perhaps two lightweight fans.
You’d have to machine that yourself, custom, though. (Or have someone do it for you.)
The thermal design documents for the Jetson module are quite thorough (it’s almost as if NVIDIA has had experience with devices that need lots of cooling before! :-) I recommend reading them if you’re going to try something like this.
Also note that the main heating area is in the center of the module; you don’t need to make contact with the entire plate necessarily (again, depending on your thermal design.)

The ‘hedgehog’ is part of the devkit, not the module. As seen in this picture of the module, underneath is the TTP - thermal transfer plate.

As Snarky mentioned, by following the Jetson TX2 Thermal Design Guide, OEMs can integrate passive cooling solutions.

If you want lowest weight, I think active cooling removes more heat at lower weight.
If you have power to spare, a Peltier junction could let you go really light!

I also think active cooling can be achieved with the full 15W TDP with less weight than the current heat sink, somewhat depending on assumptions and operating requirements. As far as I can tell, more, thinner fins; fan/blower on the side, blowing through ducted channels could all help get more out of less.

Just to be clear, you can’t remove the passive TTP (the smaller heatsink in the image above) from the Jetson module. It’s bonded and required for stiffening and will void the warranty. Of course, you’re welcome to implement additional active or passive cooling solutions on top of the TTP. Folks that have drones or natural airflow may be substantially aided in their design, or those with integrated heatpipes or a coldplate in their chassis.

Connect Tech sells a passive heat sink here

I have one and just weighed it on a small scale, it weighs 1.8oz

(the website doesn’t seem to say how much it weighs)

I’m also assuming you are going to use it with a lightweight carrier board, Connect Tech has a few different options for that as well.

The Auvidea J90-LC is the lightest and lowest-cost carrier board right now, I think.
https://auvidea.com/product/70761/

They also have active and passive heat sinks. But I have to imagine that a custom, active, heat sink is going to be the lightest weight per C/W.

Jetson TX2 Thermal Design Guide linked above mentions

key phrase, “59 mm heat sink” or key phrase, “40.01 mm x 38.10 mm.”

The distance of the holes on the image above is about 41.7 mm (small ones) and about 79 mm and 42 mm (big ones). This confuses me.

Hi pavel, this will be updated in next release, thanks.