As competition in the microprocessor world (literally) hots up, Sun Microsystems Inc and the US Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are releasing samples of a new substrate that conducts up to five times faster than conventional packaging materials. Dymalloy is a combination of powdered diamond and copper and is development of work carried out at Lawrence Livermore during the Strategic Defense Initiative’s Brilliant Pebbles project. In addition to its heat-dissipation abilities, Dymalloy has the same thermal expansion properties as silicon, which means that standard microprocessor chips can be mounted on a Dymalloy base, serving to cool them. The researchers say that they they can use the diamond dust commercially available as a by-product of industrial mining or the synthetic stuff. This costs about 50 cents a carat, through they do not say how much would be required for the average multi-chip module seen as the main market for the substance. Howard Davidson, physicist and engineer at Sun Microsystems Laboratories believes Dymalloy could find its way into commercial workstations within a couple of years, and into personal computers thereafter. At present the team is looking for a manufacturer for the material.