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Thermal Management of Mobile Electronics: A Case Study in Densification
Keywords: mobile device, thermal management, FPGA
The mobile electronics industry needs to address the challenge posed by increased power dissipation density. The main driver is increased emphasis on miniaturization, whether through volume reduction (thin laptops) or through multi-function integration, such as a mobile system that can perform as a phone, PDA, video player/recorder, GPS receiver, etc. To design highly integrated systems, thermal management has to be an integral part of the whole design process, from functional description to components and materials selection to form factor and usage profiles. Hence, a priori good understanding of thermal performance of a mobile device based on its expected volumetric density and power density would be very beneficial in determining what level of thermal enhancement is needed for the system. The goal of this paper was to gain a better insight into these system level parameters to aid in mobile systems design. A generic case study was chosen to quantify these parameters as a function of total system power and volume. This system consisted of fairly high level of computing power, besides an image sensor and lens system. The computing section was composed of an FPGA, 2 Gb of DDR2 DRAM and 4 Gb of Flash memory devices. The overall system size was approximately 1.5 X 2 X 0.5. The maximum power dissipation was as high as 9 W, which put it beyond purely conductive thermal cooling solutions. Extensive computationally analysis was carried out using commercially available CFD software to determine the system level parameters and their dependence of power levels, choice of thermal components, external environment and system volume. This study aided in establishing boundaries on system power and volume for conduction-based cooling requirements in mobile electronics. Design optimization is conducted based on the computational analysis. Functional test and thermal measurements are performed to characterize the system performance.
Hongyu Ran, Sr. Thermal Engineer
Tessera, Inc.
San Jose, CA

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