As our chips get hotter, the demand for effective cooling rises ever higher (just like those blistering CPU temperatures). An since IBM is a major player in both the chip and server market, it's no surprise that they have been working on ever better cooling practises.
Though the final figures aren't in yet (as it is still only experimental), this does look promising. What is being proposed is a series of near microscopic veins or channels carved into the surface of a toasty chip. These channels progressively branch off into smaller channels again and again. The result is something akin to the rivers, streams and creeks you might see on a map. This progression from large to medium to small apparently allows for applied thermal paste to be spread out far more evenly. Having an even layer of thermal paste between a chip and heat sink is important as this is the medium that allows for thermal transfer between the hot and cold parts. Without properly applied thermal paste, the expansion and contraction of the two thermally dissimilar parts could cause microscopic gaps to form. These gaps could severely affect the cooling process.
The IBM lab in Zurich where this new cooling methodology is being practised is also working on a system of allowing water to be pumped through this network of tiny veins. The veins in this water cooling method would be more angular in design, but might see even lower core temperatures. Called Direct Jet Impingement, it is still in the prototyping phase. It uses an array of up to 50,000 little nozzles to blast water across the chip, and then pull it away again in a perfectly closed loop.
But this isn't new cooling by any means. A company by the name of Cooligy has been working on this micro-vein system for the past several years. They merged with Emerson Network Power somewhat recently, and their Active Microstructure Cooling Loop technology (identical to IBMs Direct Jet Impingement) is slowly making its way into the server environment. This cooling technology has been previously evaluated by AMD, Apple, and none other than IBM.