Dissipating Thermal Energy

Model of thermal energy transfer from full, printed circuit boards

Engineers at AltaSim Technologies leveraged Ohio Supercomputer Center resources to model thermal energy transfer from full, printed circuit boards.

Demand for electronic devices of increasingly smaller sizes and with substantially improved processor and graphics functionality has resulted in higher-density power requirements. Consequently, significant increases in heat generated are being registered at the component, board and system levels. These higher operating temperatures can significantly shorten the operational lifetime of an electronic device. As a result, managing the evolution, distribution and dissipation of thermal energy in electronic components and circuits is important for their long-term reliability.

AltaSim Technologies partnered with the Ohio Supercomputer Center to evaluate the thermal behavior of newly developed printed circuit boards designed for use in the process control industry. The partnership evolved last year through the federal National Digital Engineering and Manufacturing Consortium (NDEMC) program, a public-private partnership funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to support and enhance the use of modeling and simulation among America’s small and medium manufacturers.

“At AltaSim, we realize that customer needs vary depending on time in the product design cycle, availability of validated thermal models and selection of technology to meet cost, manufacturability and thermal design targets,” said Kyle C. Koppenhoefer, Ph.D., a principal at AltaSim. “Integration of strategically designed computational simulations allows us to quantify the effects of specific design changes and the interrelationship between multiple variables, thus providing a broad, yet metered view of the product design.”

To achieve the required scale and level of accuracy, AltaSim engineers needed to consider large numbers of components to achieve a comprehensive simulation of the full printed circuit board. They also wanted to include a significant level of detail in both the board and surroundings, and consequently the size of the model escalated significantly. To allow the engineers to analyze the modeled behavior within a reasonable length of time, AltaSim accessed OSC’s flagship HP-Intel Xeon Oakley Cluster and the ANSYS-ICEPAK engineering simulation solution software package. ANSYS prototyping tools can be used to put a virtual product through a rigorous testing procedure before it is created as a physical object.

The decreased completion time for analyses allowed AltaSim engineers to consider different designs rapidly and make design recommendations for improved product performance that would otherwise not have been possible. As a consequence, they achieved final designs for operational components that have significantly improved product performance.

Project Lead: Kyle Koppenhoefer, AltaSim Technologies

Research Title: Thermal energy management of electric circuits

Funding Source: National Digital Engineering and Manufacturing Consortium