Webinar Review: Thermal Integrity of High-Performance PCB Design


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Electrical and mechanical engineers may be working on the same product development teams, but they speak different languages, and they have completely different objectives. As a result, these folks almost never use the same software tools.  

But Cadence’s new Celsius Thermal Solver is an exception to the rule. In a new CadenceTECHTALK webinar, “How Static and Dynamic IR Drop Analysis Can Help PCB Designs and Challenges,” product manager Melika Roshandell and SerDes SI/PI engineer Karthik Mahesh Rao explain how the EE and ME can both use the Celsius Thermal Solver to achieve their disparate objectives—at the chip and package/board levels. 

Melika discusses the solver’s capabilities on the PCB and packaging side, which are accessible during pre-layout stages of the design cycle. Built on FEA and CFD engines, the solver can identify Joule heating on boards and packages, and help determine copper density, component spacing, and proper placement and size of thermal vias. She compares the results of the solver’s dynamic IR drop analysis with DC analysis, which only works with uniform temperature. Melika also points out the differences between typical thermal simulation and the solver’s electrothermal co-simulation. 

Karthik then takes over, demonstrating electrothermal co-simulation by importing an entire CAD file into the Celsius environment. He utilizes PowerTree technology to organize heat sources and heat sinks—definitions, model names, target impedance constraints, etc. He places probes at different points on the PCB and tracks the transient results of components across various points of time. He shows how to trace power loss across each layer across time, and changes in power distribution as well. The 3D modeling capability depicts any potential hot spots on the board. 

To illustrate how this PCB would operate in the real world, Karthik switches to the CFD analysis environment and places the design inside an enclosure. He adds a heat sink to one of the thermally problematic packages, and a cooling fan on the side of the enclosure, then traces the cooling flow across the component and board. Karthik closed with examples of the more comprehensive results attained through transient electrothermal co-simulation vs. traditional steady state analysis. 

The Celsius Thermal Solver continues the “shift left” of signal integrity horsepower into the front end of the design cycle, and it offers functionality that will appeal to electrical and mechanical engineers. Maybe EEs and MEs will eventually speak the same language after all. 

Melika and Karthik pack quite a bit into this half-hour webinar. If you’re dealing with thermal challenges in your high-speed PCB designs, you’ll want to check out the CadenceTECHTALK, “How Static and Dynamic IR Drop Analysis Can Help PCB Designs and Challenges.” 

Watch now! 

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