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Thermal Management and Analysis: Rising to Meet the Thermal Challenge

Thermal management effects on electrical performance have always existed; processor speed limits are set by thermal limits, and power has been a key concern for the mobile and datacenter markets.

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Thermal effects on electrical performance have always existed; processor speed limits are set by thermal limits, and power has been a key concern for the mobile and datacenter markets for a decade. Increased electrical content logically generates more heat, which affects system performance. For example, in the automotive market, ADAS and infotainment systems are drastically increasing automotive electronics content, leaving the problem of thermal effects yet to be solved.

With higher data rates, too, comes more heat generated. 400G and 800G Ethernet are supported by 100G ports, which create heat. The PCIe® roadmap is predicting 64GT/s, and 5G promises data rates of up to 10Gb/s.

All electronic technology improvements magnify the effects of the thermal problem. Advances in IC packaging create heat dissipation challenges, and within ICs, tighter geometries and smaller voltage swings increase susceptibility to thermal effects.

Thermal Fluids and Mechanical Interactions

Utilizing computational fluid dynamics (CFD), paired with finite element analysis (FEA), advanced thermal solvers are capable of modeling the effects of difficult-to-simulate structures like fluid and airflow interactions on electronic systems. This is particularly useful within the thermal analysis field, as flow analysis can determine that certain components are cooling too quickly, or that there is an excess of heat in areas where flow is undirected. 

This helps in particular with mechanical aspects of system design, as the engineers behind the system are able to optimize automotive, aerospace, or any other types of electronic systems, to account for the environments they'll be placed within as well as the conditions they're working under. This way things like thermal fatigue and thermal degradation can become less like maintenance nightmares and more like simple fixes in otherwise particularly expensive and expansive machinery.