It's being quite a while since our last sightings of thermal electric coolers. Based on a phenomenon known as the Peltier effect where electricity was used to transfer heat between two dissimilar metals or semi-conductors, thermal electric cooling (TEC) probably had its heyday during the period of the early Pentium processors. Its biggest advantage was that given sufficient current, a thermal electric cooler could actually cool the CPU below room temperature, which naturally drew the interest of overclockers. Also, unlike the other competing method of liquid cooling, all the necessary components were solid state and needed little maintenance, though like practically all forms of cooling, a heatsink and fan combination is still required to slog off the heat transferred.
So why don't we find more of these coolers nowadays? The most likely reason why thermal electric cooling grew out of favor was the increasing power demands of newer processors. Imagine having to use more power to cool an already power hungry processor. The Peltier effect by itself had low efficiency and these coolers could consume up to twice the amount of electricity compared to the heat energy transported. Those who went for extreme overclocking also faced problems with condensation if they went too far. Therefore, it is now quite rare to find such coolers in the mass market compared to hybrid ones using heat pipes while some overclockers have gone for the more extreme vapor phase change cooling.
Hence, it was quite a surprise to find GeCube touting thermal electric cooling for its new Radeon X1950 PRO. Christened with the lengthy name of GeCube FZ Cool Radeon X1950 PRO Champion Edition, this card comes with a giant heatsink featuring dual 80mm cooling fans, together with the Peltier elements and heat pipes. In short, it looks like a very interesting product. Here's a look at the package: