Designers working on subsystems and systems using information for LED, semiconductor, and package components use complex thermal analysis software to help accelerate the design of their products but the analysis, typically based on vendor datasheets, often provides insufficient results. Clear, accessible, and reliable data relating to thermal characteristics upstream and downstream is critical. Methods to achieve this have traditionally been awkward, manual and therefore error-prone.
Mentor Graphics Corporation has developed what it claims to be the electronic industry's first combined technology for thermal characterization and simulation with T3Ster hardware test products and its FloTHERM software. The T3Ster product is a thermal transient tester for semiconductor device packages and LEDs. Mentor's FloTHERM product is the de-facto standard for electronics thermal simulation and analysis to predict airflow, temperature and heat transfer throughout electronics equipment including components, boards, and entire systems. The unique interface between T3Ster and FloTHERM seamlessly creates accurate thermal simulation models. The thermal characterization offering is unique because it is the only JESD51-14 compliant solution available on the market today.
Increased design complexity and smaller form factors create heat management problems which 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 recognizes the need for accurate thermal data at all levels of a system's implementation.
JEDEC is another organization dedicated to microelectronics industry standards. The Mentor Graphics T3Ster advanced thermal characterization tester for semiconductor packages is the only commercially available product to fully implement the JEDEC JESD51-14 new measurement methodology standard for the junction-to-case thermal resistance of power semiconductor devices. The T3Ster test methodology ensures higher accuracy and repeatability compared to classical steady-state measurements based on older standards.
Now the integration of Mentor's T3Ster hardware measurement and FloTHERM software simulation provides a combined methodology of optimizing heat management in devices, sub-systems and full systems. Manufacturers are able to optimize their LED and IC package designs for effective heat dissipation. Once the device prototype is built, they can then characterize the device from a thermal perspective and build accurate models for use in FloTHERM thermal software simulations at both the sub-system and full system levels. Finally, systems integrators can further verify their heat management solutions with physical measurements using the T3ster hardware.
Mentor's FloTHERM product allows engineers to implement virtual prototypes using advanced CFD techniques to simulate airflow, temperature and heat transfer in electronic systems. By using accurate thermal analysis, engineers can evaluate and test designs automatically before physical prototypes are built. When combined with the T3Ster product, engineers using the FloTHERM tool will benefit from both accurate thermal simulation models derived from real measurements and thermal package characterization testing.
Package characterization measurements provide an insight into the package structure with thermal resistances and thermal capacitances. Simulation software provides the engineer with information on specific sections of the design that correspond to the measured structure. Thermal interface materials are quite difficult to model since their conductivity and thickness cannot be determined with high accuracy. Thus, thermal package measurements produced by the T3Ster product, based on the resistance of these materials, can be used later for accurate model creation in FloTHERM software. This seamless process provides fast, easy and accurate model creation; identifies product design defects; and enables manufacturing quality checking. The combined T3Ster tester and FloTHERM analysis software solution is compatible with other Mentor Graphics products to provide comprehensive thermal simulation for optimum system reliability, from IC package and LED, to PCB, and to full system development.
The Mentor Graphics T3Ster and FloTHERM solution for efficient thermal package characterization is available today. For more information on FloTHERM and T3Ster technologies visit the company website at www.mentor.com/mechanical.