"is this some new invention so as to do away with the thermal compound."
Not exactly new, thermal pads have been around for a while. Clean any residue of the old compound off the CPU with a suitable cleaning solution, pull the protective plastic layer off the pad. Then position the cooler.
If there's no film protector on the pad, I'd remove it as it could have picked up all sorts of muck and become quite useless. Then use normal thermal paste.