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Verify your PCB/IC thermal modeling

Posted: 16 Apr 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IC thermal modeling? PCB thermal? thermal design?

You just built a breadboard of your expert design. You did all the simulations needed before going to layout, and reviewed the manufacturer's suggested techniques for a good thermal design for the particular package chosen. You even did your due diligence in going through the initial thermal analysis equations on paper to be sure not to exceed IC junction temperatures with a comfortable margin. But wait, you turn on the power and the IC is pretty hot to the touch. You are uncomfortable with this (not to mention the concern of your thermal experts and reliability people). Now what do you do?

Maintaining the integrity of your circuit design over increasing ambient temperature by keeping IC junction temperature comfortably away from the absolute maximum level is an important design consideration when it comes to the reliability of your overall design. This is especially true when you are pushing toward the maximum power dissipation levels (Pd max) of the particular chip central to your circuit design.

The first step in your thermal integrity analysis is to better understand the basics of IC package thermal metrics.

Good circuit designers want to be sure to have a robust electrical design that can handle worst case voltages and currents at maximum ambient temperatures. Many times one oft-forgotten area or an area of lesser concern is the package's thermal-design integrity under worst-case operating conditions. This may be an even more important area of your design since it determines, in a major way, the reliability of the circuit.

Shown here is a relatively quick and easy way to determine if the design is the best it can be, thermally speaking, without cumbersome or time-consuming methods or expensive software analysis. Also shared are some methods to lower Pd, or at least offload power from the IC package itself.

View the PDF document for more information.

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