Electronic systems are increasingly becoming more compact and performing more functions. As a result, many systems are prone to overheating. Therefore, it is very important that every electronic system is not only designed for core functions, but also for thermals. That’s what brings us to our current discussion and why electronic designers should use thermal management principles properly and effectively.
Thermal management is important because it helps us identify any source for premature failure, degradation of performance, or usability issues due to thermals. Every electronic system, including the circuitry, generates a lot of heat, and the amount of heat that is going out is directly related to the power input. It is very important that we know where this heat is being generated, the heat paths around it, and how it is dissipated to the outside.
Once the heat sources and heat paths are identified, extensive thermal analysis is conducted using the appropriate thermal models, to determine how heat removal is enhanced, so the system operates at as low temperature as possible. A special attention is given to spots where the temperature is the highest, as these spots are often the sources of failure within the electronic system.
There are many thermal solution components that can be considered for heat rejection and/or temperature control of your system, including heat sinks, fans, heat pipes, thermoelectric coolers, phase change materials, etc. Once preliminary thermal analysis is conducted, it comes to a point when we select which of the heat removal components is appropriate for a given system, which in turn leads to more analysis to determine the most optimal layout.
Why is thermal management important?
At high temperatures, electronic systems usually function at less than optimum levels. There are all kinds of things that can go wrong with high temperatures, such electron leakage, oxide breakdown, etc. In general, electronic systems work best at lower temperatures. That’s why an electronic system must be designed not only for core functions, but also for thermals; sound thermal design is critical.
It is known that reliability of electronic systems degrades with increased temperature. The law of Arrhenius dictates that reliability decreases exponentially with temperature. For a given system, there is a critical temperature beyond which a small increase in temperature brings a marked decline in reliability.
Whether it is handheld or desktop system or chassis, every system has temperature limits, beyond which it is not supposed to operate. Adhering to such limit often means limiting the performance of the system or throttling system performance. What this means is that, the performance of poorly designed thermal systems will have to be limited prematurely and unnecessarily.
When it comes to electronics cooling, the uninitiated may think of a heat sink and a fan. Whereas this may work in some cases, it may not be the ideal solution in many others, and it may not even be a solution with still others. Thermal Management is not just about cooling, but about cooling effectively with the least effect on overall system design and development, including cost, weight, ID design, etc. This is where state of the art thermal analysis becomes important, so the designer knows which of the various options is preferable and what configuration is the most optimal.
Looking at all the above-mentioned points, you will understand how important effective thermal design is in your product development. Using an experienced thermal specialist early on in your design cycle can give you the small, yet critical help you will need to assure than your design is thermally sound.
For more information about our services, please contact www.thermalds.com, a leading consultant for thermal design solutions.