Thermal modelling for non-specialists speeds up product design

21 March 2013
By Lorna Sharpe
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heatsink thermal analysis

Using FloTHERM XT to assess the performance of a heatsink designed with curved geometry to fit in an enclosure

Credit: Mentor Graphics

Mentor Graphics has launched an electronics cooling simulation package that design engineers as well as thermal specialists can use right through the design process, from concept to verification, significantly shortening the time needed to finalise the designs of electronic products.

The Flotherm XT package bridges the mechanical design automation (MDA) and electronic design automation (EDA) domains and addresses growing challenges in both fields.

The electronic challenges are driven by increasing processing speed and device density, pushing up the power consumption of chips and boards and therefore the amount of heat to be dissipated.

Increasing geometric complexity is driven by decreasing size and the increased influence of industrial design which requires design software to handle complex shapes.

Mentor says Flotherm XT enables earlier virtual prototyping and advanced “what-if” analysis, so heat flows can be modelled and cooling solutions refined before the overall design has solidified and changes become more difficult. With fewer design iterations the time-to-market is reduced. Good heat management is also important for product reliability.

A configurable interface lets users customise the functionality features on the screen and adapt it as the needs of the design project change. Imported or CAD-generated geometries work seamlessly with the package’s library of models, and automatic meshing and data convergence shorten execution times.

“The big advance we’ve achieved is bridging the gap between the electronics and mechanical design flows,” said Keith Hanna, director of marketing for Mentor’s Mechanical Analysis division. Moreover, by making thermal modelling software easier to use, it will drive up usage. “We think this is a game-changer,” he added.

In beta testing over the last year some customers have reported design times reduced by 60-70 per cent, depending on the application.

Key markets are expected to be in industries such as automotive, aerospace, telecommunications, computing, industrial automation and consumer electronics.



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