Earlier in the year at CES 2023, I was able to visit the folks at Frore Systems and check out demos of their AirJet solid-state active cooling solution, which is used in thin-and-light notebooks. You can read my coverage of Frore Systems at CES 2023 here.
Frore offers a solid-state thermal solution about the size of a silver dollar that dissipates unwanted heat through vibrating membranes. This allows thin-and-light notebooks to achieve twice the clock speeds without adding any noise or thickness; it also helps achieve an IP64 dust and water resistance rating for the device. This kind of thermal solution is every OEMs dream, and if Frore can deliver on its claim to deliver so much better efficiency than legacy fan designs, it has struck gold.
Frore has been proving its thermal solution these past eight months, winning customers and various awards, setting many firsts and helping to break performance records. Let’s look at what Frore has been up to since the beginning of 2023.
First Customer Commercial Product Launch
Frore promised me at CES that there would be products launched with AirJet in the second half of 2023. Slightly ahead of schedule, hardware maker Zotac announced the world’s first mini PC with Airjet at the Computex show in May. The fanless mini PC market is a great fit for AirJet, which doubles the sustained processing power in an ultra-small form factor.
The Zotac Mini PC with AirJet is an ultra-small fanless mini PC that—for the first time—offers a high-performance Intel core processor, PCIe NVMe SSD and LPDDR5 Memory. Until AirJet, manufacturers were unable to include components like these, as they generated too much heat for such compact devices.
At CES 2023, Frore Systems was recognized by PC Mag and Hot Hardware in their best-of-show roundups. The company followed that up at Computex 2023 in May, where Frore received more best-in-show accolades from PC World and Wccftech, and won the Computex Golden Award of the Best Choice Awards in the integrated circuit and components category. Computex is one of the biggest computer and technology events in the world, and winning this Golden Award was a huge deal. The Best Choice Award aims to provide global buyers with the best purchasing reference that is reliable for both buyers and manufacturers. For Frore, winning this creates a direct opportunity to show that its novel thermal solution demonstrates exceptional innovation, functionality and market potential.
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At the Flash Memory Summit in August 2023, Frore Systems received the award for Most Innovative Startup. I appreciate what Seshu Madhavapeddy, founder and CEO of Frore, had to say about winning the award: “The award reflects the widespread enthusiasm for AirJet from the SSD industry and emphasizes how significant AirJet is in revolutionizing markets where performance is constrained by heat.”
My mind immediately jumps to notebooks and laptops as the most applicable market for the AirJet, but its size and scalability allows this solution to be used in just about any electronic device, including small items like smartphones, IoT devices and solid-state drives (SSDs). That said, initially I struggled to understand the necessity of Frore’s thermal solutions for SSDs and IoT devices, because heat doesn’t affect IoT and SSDs nearly as much as smartphones, notebooks or desktop computers. At least, this is true if you are satisfied with current SSD speeds and temperatures.
However, Frore is strategically targeting the SSD market to show that in fact it isnecessary, and that it’s necessary for every computing device that runs into a thermal barrier. With growing demand for increased erformance, and the introduction of new technologies like NVMe protocol, Thunderbolt, PCIe 5 and PCIe 6 and greater than 8TB SSDs, heat is rapidly becoming a challenge.
Frore’s thermal solution proves itself in the SSD market by regulating the temperatures of the SSD and enabling faster and more reliable storage solutions without adding bulk or noise. Frore’s products are small, scalable and efficient, making them useful across every part of the computing spectrum.
Many firsts and many broken records
At the Flash Memory Summit, Frore collaborated with three industry leaders, Phison, Sabrent, and Other World Computing (OWC). Frore and Phison demonstrated the Phison PS5026-E26 PCIe Gen5 SSD controller with I/O+ Technology equipped with two AirJet Minis. The demonstration resulted in 14,175MB per second of sustained sequential read performance and more than 1,000MB per second in PCMark 10 Storage Tests. This was a world first for NAND-based M.2 SSDs.
Frore and Sabrent demonstrated the Sabrent 8TB M.2 NAND with AirJet to have three times the read throughput with a lower skin temperature compared to the same unit without an AirJet. This achievement is unbelievably good—and not something you would expect to see by adding a thermal solution. I can only imagine how good “Sustained 3x the performance” looks on Sabrent’s pitch decks.
Frore also partnered with OWC to put eight AirJet Minis in the 64TB OWC Mercury Pro U.2 Dual Storage device. This demonstration operated between 2,200MB per second and 2,600MB/s of sequential write speeds to showcase the first and fastest compact 64TB storage device.
Frore has laid considerable groundwork for itself in important thermally constrained computing markets. It has achieved three important things since CES 2023 that are critical to its future success. First, its May announcement with Zotac will enable us to see AirJet in action in a consumer product by the fourth quarter of this year. Second, Frore is actively proving the necessity of its solution in one of the hardest markets it is entering—SSDs. Third, it is establishing critical relationships with industry leaders across market segments, including Intel, Zotac, OWC, Phison and Sabrent, with promising feedback.
Frore’s headlines at Computex 2023 and the Flash Memory Summit 2023 have been extremely valuable to its success. From seeing its successful record-breaking demonstrations and awards, I’m convinced, and it’s appropriate to say that Frore has brought real vibrancy to its markets, especially SSD.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.