Shining the spotlight on thermals

When multicore processors were new, I thought speed was the driving factor for this design shift. But a Dell presentation straightened me out.
Dell’s engineering manager showed that each time clock speed doubled, the surface temperature of the chip also doubled. Extrapolating out, he showed that chip temperatures would match levels on the surface of the sun in just a few years.
That came to mind during a discussion with Mentor Graphics, which is promoting computational fluid dynamics software. This tool pinpoints bottlenecks for heat flow and provides some suggestions for eliminating them.
That’s critical, because every trend discussion points back to heat removal. Adding LEDs is a big challenge, especially when high brightness is required. Smaller, lighter packaging poses challenges for heat removal.
Even multicores generate a lot of heat. Intel’s i5 quad core draws 95 Watts. Cooling circuit boards shows no signs of fading into the shadows.

Note: The IPC Technical Interchange on Thermal Management takes place November 3-4 in Irvine, California. There’s still time to sign up!

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