Electronics Design

Solver Enhancements enable Thermal Simulation for Electronics

07.11.14 | Autor / Redakteur: Tom Gregory * / Franz Graser

Thermal simulation: Gaining a better understanding of the flow of heat through a system helps engineers to minimise hotspots and deliver more energy-efficient designs.
Thermal simulation: Gaining a better understanding of the flow of heat through a system helps engineers to minimise hotspots and deliver more energy-efficient designs. (Images: Future Facilities)

Future Facilities’ 6SigmaET enables engineers to evaluate the thermal performance of their products. Further steps are being made with Release 9 – the introduction of a new solver that speeds up simulation.

Thermal behaviour has become a key influence on electronics design and its cost-effectiveness. Although electronic systems are gradually improving in terms of their energy efficiency, the pressure to pack more functionality into tighter and tighter spaces makes heat removal a major challenge.

Simulation provides a mechanism for the accurate assessment of the thermal design, but traditional implementations of it have meant design teams have not always been able to cope with the complexity of modern electronics, potentially leading to inaccurate results through over-simplification.

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Since its launch in 2009, Future Facilities’ 6SigmaET has delivered great improvements in simulation modelling techniques and efficiency, enabling engineering teams to evaluate the thermal performance of their products. Further steps are being made with Release 9 – the introduction of a new solver that can radically speed up simulation, together with a number of user-interface and functionality enhancements.

There are numerous applications where thermal simulation makes a key difference. In hand-held mobile devices, for example, designers need to pay careful attention to components such as microprocessors, which can heat up by more than 30°C in a matter of seconds when dealing with computationally intense workloads before quickly cooling down again as parts of the processor are allowed to go to sleep. The equipment design needs to manage these sudden changes to both protect the components and to distribute the heat effectively, ensuring that the system does not become too uncomfortable to hold.

On a larger scale, the cost of cooling high-performance processors has become a key issue in the design of data centre equipment. Forced-air cooling is responsible for a significant part of the cost of running a data centre, making it a prime focus for operators keen to not just reduce operating expenses, but also to improve their green image. Better understanding of the heat flow through a system can lead to designs that allow for lower fan speeds, reducing overall energy consumption.

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