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New Thermal Modeling Standards Emerge

March 2005

In a presentation at the MicroElectronics Packaging and Test Engineering Council, Sarang Shidore of Flomerics, Incorporated showcased emerging boundary-condition-independent thermal modeling standards in the electronics industry. The new proposed standards are designed to provide a more efficient division of labor between component suppliers and system integrators by governing thermal model generation, documentation, data exchange and validation.

The emerging standards are being developed in response to the increasing complexity of the design environment, in which semiconductor materials suppliers, fabless semiconductor houses, substrate designers, assembly and test subcontractors, contract manufacturers, board manufacturers, system OEMs, and others all play important roles. Moreover, chip-level power densities are projected to increase by a factor of five between 2002 and 2010, after already increasing tenfold between 1992 and 2002. Thermal modeling is becoming increasingly important under such challenging circumstances.

"Each level in the value chain, components, subsystems, and systems, are reaching critical thermal densities at the same time that interactions between levels are becoming more important," Shidore said. "Each company has its own internal engineering data flows from its various suppliers. The result is that thermal design involves too much duplication of effort, takes too long and costs too much money."

JEDEC committee JC-15.1 is already tackling this problem by developing scientifically sound and vendor-neutral standards and facilitating intra-industry dialog and education. Two new thermal standards for IC components are currently in advanced preparation in the committee – Delphi and Two-Resistor compact thermal models.

Several studies have shown that that the Delphi models yield less than 10 percent predictive error under any application encountered in electronics. A Delphi compact thermal model represents the package as a network of thermal resistors that links the junction to all major sources of heat extraction. The alternative two resistor compact model provides a simpler approach that leverages established test-based methods while providing less accuracy than Delphi models.

"Thermal modeling can and should be done early in the design process in order to rapidly explore what-if scenarios and identify problems when they can be inexpensively corrected without requiring major engineering effort," Shidore said. "The goal is to develop a new paradigm in which each level develops complete modeling and simulation data sets that can be inserted into engineering processes in the next level. A new generation of standards focused on modeling and simulation that build on established methods will soon provide the flow of complete data sets for insertion into engineering processes incorporating modeling and simulation as a core aspect. The common use of best practices in modeling and simulation, seamless data transfer and sensible industry standards will enable the portability of data throughout the design chain."

"The emerging modeling standards will govern thermal model generation, documentation, data exchange and validation, providing more efficient division of labor between component suppliers and systems integrators and enabling them to act as a virtual company," Shidore continued. "The emerging modeling standards differ from existing test-based standards in that they will provide boundary-condition independence, ensuring their accuracy in real-world designs. As these standards are being developed, the electronics industry also needs to develop the infrastructure needed to enable seamless data flow, including a new generation of collaborative modeling tools, web-based information transfer, and a cultural shift towards making more use of suppliers' data."

For further information, please contact:

Nazita Saye
Head of Marketing
Mentor Graphics Mechanical Analysis, UK
81 Bridge Road
Hampton Court
Surrey, KT8 9HH

Tel: +44 (0)20 8487 3000
Fax: +44 (0)20 8487 3001

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