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How Mentor Graphics handles heat

John Day

John Day

Posted Dec 15, 2011

Hardware and software tools that help engineers deal effectively with temperature and heat transfer offer significant value, since increased design complexity and smaller form factors create heat management problems that represent one of the biggest challenges in electronics today.

Temperature is understood to be the key accelerator in the majority of reliability failures and IEEE Standard 1413 (for reliability predictions) recognizes the need for accurate thermal data at all levels of a system’s implementation.

Mentor Graphics T3Ster is the largest selling thermal transient tester for semiconductor device packages and LEDs. Mentor’s FloTHERM software is considered a de facto standard for thermal simulation and analysis to predict airflow, temperature and heat transfer through electronics equipment.

As useful as T3Ster and FloTHERM were separately, they are better now that the two have been integrated. Keith Hanna, director of marketing for Mentor Graphics Mechanical Analysis division, says the interface between T3Ster and FloTHERM marks the electronics industry’s first combined technology for thermal characterization, simulation, and optimization, and is the only commercially available product to fully implement the new JEDEC JESD51-14 measurement methodology standard for the junction-to-case thermal resistance of power semiconductor devices.

T3Ster hardware measurement and FloTHERM software simulation provides a combined methodology of optimizing heat management in devices, subsystems and full systems. Manufacturers can optimize LED and IC package designs for effective heat dissipation. Once a device prototype is built they can characterize the device from a thermal perspective and build accurate models for use in FloTHERM simulations at both the subsystem and full system levels. Systems integrators can use T3Ster hardware to further verify their heat management solutions with physical measurements.

The interface also allows designers to create accurate (to 0.01°C) thermal models seamlessly and pass the models to customers, and it can be used to verify the accuracy of models received from suppliers.

“The ease in creating accurate thermal models based on reliable thermal measurements helps users quickly to identify design problems and to create design alternatives which improve product quality, reliability, and increased profitability,” said Erich Buergel, general manager of Mentor Graphics Mechanical Analysis Division.

IEEE Standard 1413, FloTHERM software, thermal simulation and analysis, thermal transient tester, Mentor Graphics, T3ster

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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