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White Paper Chris Gonzales and Hwan Ming Wang Thermal/Mechanical Engineers Intel Corporation

Thermal Design Considerations for Embedded Applications


December 2008

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Thermal Design Considerations for Embedded Applications

Executive Summary
Embedded Applications differ from the typical desktop, server and mobile markets. Some of the different requirements for embedded applications include higher ambient temperatures, need for higher max component temperature spec, low platform power, long life support, small form factors, and extended usage conditions (24 x 7 x 365 operation). Due to these differences there are special considerations for component and system level thermal solution design. Thermal solution design requires an engineer to fully understand the system and various form factor boundary conditions and component level attributes. This document will define thermal cooling schemes: passive, active and fanless thermal solutions and their difference via the three modes of heat transfer (conduction, convection, and radiation). The thermal performance metrology will be explained, using a thermal resistance calculation and how to apply to Intel components. The methodology will highlight typical Intel component specifications such as TJ-MAX, TCASE-MAX, TAMBIENT and Thermal Design Power (TDP). In addition some thermal features such as the Digital Thermal Sensor (DTS) and Thermal Monitor will be explained.

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Contents
Introduction.........................................................................................................................4 Cooling Methods and Component Specifications ........................................................................4 Three Modes of Heat Transfer .............................................................................4 Active Thermal Solutions....................................................................................9 Passive Thermal Solution .................................................................................10 Fanless Thermal Solution ................................................................................. 11 Exotic thermal solutions...................................................................................14 Intels Component Thermal Specifications........................................................... 16 How to Calculate Required Thermal Performance .................................................18 Cooling Challenges for Embedded Applications ........................................................................ 21 Ambient Temperature......................................................................................21 Form Factor and Available Volume for Thermal Solution ....................................... 22 Maximum Allowable Component Temperature ..................................................... 23 Extended Usage..............................................................................................25 Long Life Support............................................................................................25 Conclusion......................................................................................................................... 26

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Introduction
Computing platform component power has decreased as a result of silicon technology improvement. However, it is still critical to cool the components to adequately ensure a products long-life reliability. In embedded applications, there are challenges which are more demanding than the general computing systems such as desktops, notebooks, and workstations/servers. The major differences are the target usage model and operating environment. Typically, embedded applications are in harsh environments, such as outdoors, factory assembly lines, and telecomm base stations. Conversely, the usual desktop, mobile, and workstation/ server are typically deployed in homes, offices, and data centers where there are controlled environmental conditions. Intel provides a wide variety of embedded processors and chipsets that have features and specifications that are suited for embedded markets. These components typically have high maximum temperatures limits, long life availability and features such as Digital Thermal Sensor and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology. All of these features will aid the embedded thermal engineer in designing robust thermal solutions for Intel Architecture.

Cooling Methods and Component Specifications


There are three basic types of thermal solutions for electronics cooling: passive thermal solutions, active thermal solutions and fanless thermal solutions. The type of cooling solution used in an embedded system will vary depending on the form factor, component specifications, and boundary conditions. All thermal solutions rely on the three modes of heat transfer to dissipate the heat from the component: conduction, convection and radiation. The following sections will explain the different cooling methods as well as Intels component specifications.

Three Modes of Heat Transfer


Conduction
Thermal conduction is the process in which thermal energy transfers through matter, from a region of higher temperature to lower temperature and acts to equalize the temperature difference. It can also be described as the heat energy transferred from one material to another by direct contact. Fouriers Law of Conduction states that the rate of heat flow equals the product of the area normal to the heat flow path, the temperature gradient
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along the path and the thermal conductivity of the medium. Heat flux, q is the rate of heat transfer per unit area and it depends on the direction. Consider a one dimensional block with one side at a constant T1 and the other side at a constant T2, where T1 > T2.
Figure 1. One Dimensional Heat Conduction

The total heat flow in the x-direction is expressed by the following equation:

Where: k - is the conductive heat transfer coefficient A area of surface contact L length Rearranging this same equation you get:

Where conduction thermal resistance is:

In regards to cooling electronic components this equation can be used to express a conductive thermal resistance. Thermal resistance (Theta) is a

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method used to represent thermal systems. Thermal resistance is analogous to electrical resistance.
Figure 2. Thermal Resistance and Electrical Resistance

The thermal resistance calculation will be used when determining the necessary thermal performance for a keeping a component within its temperature specification. Conduction is the main mode of heat transfer through the package and how the heat is transferred out of the package to the attached thermal solution and the printed circuit board. Typical designation given for thermal resistance from package junction to ambient is labeled Theta-JA whereas from package junction to board (PCB) is labeled Theta-JB.
Figure 3. Thermal Resistance of Package to Its Surroundings Tambient Theta-JA Si die Theta-JB Board Substrate Tboard Tjunction

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Convection
Convection is the transfer of thermal energy between two surfaces as a consequence of a relative velocity between them. The most practical application is where one surface is a solid and the other is a fluid.
Figure 4. Convection

Newtons law of convection cooling can be written as

q = hAS (TS T )
Where: h Convective heat transfer coefficient AS Surface Area TS Surface Temperature T - Fluid Temperature In this equation the complexity lies in the determination of the distribution of the convective heat transfer coefficient, h. The heat transfer coefficient will depend on the boundary layer conditions, surface geometry and nature of the fluid motion. These parameters can be modeled using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software to optimize thermal solution design and determine the amount of convective heat transfer. Convective heat transfer can also be expressed as a thermal resistance as shown in Figure 5.

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Figure 5. Convective Thermal Resistance

On a basic level, the convective heat transfer can be improved with higher airflow and more surface area. However, it is not always possible to make the thermal solution larger or increase the airflow, due the constraints of embedded form factors. Therefore, the thermal solution designer must factor in all the boundary conditions in order to develop a suitable solution. Convective heat transfer plays a very important role in electronics cooling. This mode of heat transfer (airflow over heatsink) will allow higher power processors to be cooled in most applications.

Radiation
Radiation cooling is the transfer of heat by electromagnetic emission, primarily in the infrared wavelengths. While the transfer of energy by conduction and convection requires the presence of a material medium, radiation does not. In fact, radiation transfer occurs most effectively in a vacuum. Figure 6 graphically represents the radiation heat transfer between two surfaces at different temperatures.

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Figure 6. Radiation

The calculation for radiation emitted from an object can be expressed by the following equation:

q" = TS4
Where: - Emissivity of the object ranges from 0 to 1 - Stefan-Boltzmann constant TS Surface temperature (absolute temperature) For the majority of embedded applications, radiation will result in a very small percentage of the total heat transfer. The only applications where it will have significant impact are in fanless designs.

Active Thermal Solutions


An active thermal solution is a heatsink that incorporates a fan attached directly to it. This is the most common type of thermal solution for desktop computers. In general embedded applications do not use this type of thermal solution. These solutions usually require more height above the motherboard than embedded form factors can provide.

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Figure 7. Active Fan Heatsink

Active solutions typically have very good thermal performance due to the large volume of the heatsink and the directly attached fan which provides a significant amount of airflow when compared to other types of thermal solutions. Active solutions rely on the heat to be conducted from the package into the heatsink and then removed by the forced air flow flowing in between the heatsink fins. Since the fan is directly attached to the heatsink, the velocity is usually high and thus results in an overall thermal solution with low thermal resistance.

Passive Thermal Solution


Passive thermal solutions are the most common type of thermal solution for embedded applications. This type of thermal solution employs a solid metal heatsink attached to the heat dissipating component and then with system airflow the heat is removed. Since the airflow is provided by system fan(s), the velocity tends to be much lower than that of an active heatsink, resulting in a lower convection heat transfer coefficient. There could be obstacles, like motherboard components, that are placed between the system fan and the passive heatsink, which creates a resistance to the forced air flow from system fan. In turn, this usually requires a larger heatsink to achieve the same performance, since the thermal solution must rely on more conductive heat transfer. The advantage of passive thermal solutions is that they can be used in form factors where the z-height above the motherboard is limited. In some usage models, the fans are grouped into an easily removable tray fastened to the system chassis air inlet, which allows for swapping of defective fan(s) from the system chassis. Below is an example of a passive heatsink:

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Figure 8. Passive Heatsinks

Passive Heatsink

Passive Heatsink on a mini-ITX motherboard

Fanless Thermal Solution


A fanless thermal solution refers to a solution that does not use a fan (system or component level) to provide airflow. The only airflow is induced by the buoyancy effect where hot air moves opposite the direction of gravity and cool air moves towards the direction of gravity. This air movement is created by the difference in air density and the resulting velocity is very low. There are two basic types of fanless solutions: Conduction Cooled Natural Convection System. This solution is usually referred to a thermal solution in which the heat dissipating components are attached to the system chassis (via direct contact or heat pipe); therefore, the chassis acts as a big heatsink. All heat from various heat sources will have to be channeled out via conduction to the chassis. The heat is conducted from the components to the chassis and then out to the surrounding environment via natural convection and radiation. This type of cooling scheme is very common in In-vehicle infotainment systems and many military type applications. The second type of fanless solution would be a standard natural convection heatsink mounted to a heat generating component. A natural convection system chassis will typically have ventilation slots or a grille to allow for minimal air flow to enter and exit the chassis. This prevents the internal temperature of the chassis

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from becoming too high. This solution looks just like a typical fin heatsink and it relies on natural convection to remove the majority of the heat to its surroundings, although radiation can positively impact the performance. All fanless thermal solutions will be somewhat limited on the amount of heat that can dissipate. There are many factors that impact the amount of power that can be dissipated (e.g. max component temperature or ambient temperature) but a good rule of thumb is to target components that are 10 W or less.

Design Considerations for a Fanless Solution:


Below are some general recommendations and considerations for a fanless design. The best way to optimize the thermal solution design is through CFD modeling. Intel provides component level package models that a system designer can use to develop a robust thermal solution. Through modeling, the system designer can try many different approaches to solving the thermal challenge, reduce prototype cost and decrease time to market. Heat Distribution. Optimizing the heat distribution from the heat source(s) by using multiple heatpipes as a fast heat conduction path to larger area of system chassis is a good method to improve thermal solution design. Please refer to Figure 9 for illustration of channeling heat from sources to surrounding environment in a conduction cool system solution.
Figure 9. Heat Transfer Path & Distribution

Conduction Convection & Radiation

Heatsink Design. Fin pitch, height, and thickness for natural convection thermal solution will be different from typical forced convection heatsink fins. The fin-to-fin spacing should be optimized (larger fin pitch) for the amount of air flow that is induced by natural convection. Fin height can limit the

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radiation of the heat from one surface to the surrounding. The fins on a fanless solution are typically much thicker than forced convection fins thus allowing more conductive heat transfer from the chassis/heatsink base. System Orientation. The orientation and mounting of a fanless system will play a critical part in the heat dissipation effectiveness. Having multiple sets of fin orientations will allow the chassis more flexibility in the orientation in which the chassis is mounted. The thermal solution will perform better when the fins are oriented parallel to the direction of gravity, so ideally it should be mounted in a vertical position to achieve maximum convective heat transfer. Refer to Figure 10 for a better illustration.
Figure 10. System and Fin Orientation

Surface Emissivity. The amount of heat transferred through radiation from the outer surface of chassis will be affected by the surface emissivity characteristics. The heat transfer via radiation is improved by surfaces with higher emissivity. A surface's emissivity can be improved by painting the surface a dark color, with black being the optimum color. Hot Spot Determination. Through simulations, locating the hot spot(s) is fairly simple and the thermal solution can be optimized to eliminate hot spots. For example, the heat is localized at one area on the conduction cooled chassis as shown in Figure 11. The fins on the cooler area can be re-assessed if they are necessary on system level cooling. If not then they could be removed and thus eliminate weight and unnecessary cost.

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Figure 11. Hot Spot Identification

Exotic thermal solutions


There are a number of other cooling technologies that can be used to remove the heat from component, these include: Heat pipes. A heat pipe is a device with highly effective heat transfer from one end of the pipe (hot side) to the opposite side (cold side). For a heat pipe to function properly, a temperature differential must exist between the hot and cold sides. A heat pipe will be attached to a heat source on one end (evaporator) and a heat exchanger (condenser) on the opposite side. The way that it operates is the fluid inside a heat pipe will evaporate (by absorbing the heat from its surroundings) and then flow to the cool side. At the cool side, the vapor will condense and turn back into fluid. The fluid will then flow back to the hot side via the wick structure (in capillary action) at the inner wall of the heat pipes. This cycle will continue to occur as long as the temperature differential exists. Heat pipes are generally used to transfer the heat from volumetrically constrained area to larger area where there is more volume for the heat exchanger. See an example of heat pipe in an active heatsink in Figure 12. In this case the heat pipes aid in the removal of heat from the heatsink base and transport the heat to the fin array where the heat is dissipated by the fins and active fan.

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Figure 12. Active Heatsink with Heat Pipes

Vapor Chamber. A vapor chamber is very similar in function to a heat pipe. The vapor chamber is manufactured within the heatsink base. This in effect creates a heatsink base that is similar to a heat pipe and the vapor chamber increases the heat spreading within the base. The hot side (component side) of the base will be the evaporator where heat transforms the liquid in the base into a vapor. The heat then moves towards the cooler side (heatsink fins side). At the cooler side, the heat dissipation through the fins will condense the vapor back into fluid. The fluid will then return to the hot side and starts the cycle again. A vapor chamber base will usually result in higher effective conductivity for the heatsink base when compared to copper, but manufacturing costs will increase and is only effective in high power dissipating applications. Liquid Cooling. Liquid cooling is very similar to a car radiator in a closed loop system. A cold plate is attached to the heat generating component. Through conduction heat is transferred through the cold plate to the fluid inside. The fluid, usually a water and glycol mixture, is pumped through tubing to a heat exchanger (radiator). The radiator is typically located on the system chassis wall and a large fan will be attached to the radiator. The heat will be removed from the fluid and to the environment via the radiator fins and forced air flow from the fan. The cooled fluid will then flow back towards the cold plate and continue the cycle. Liquid cooling has the advantage of high heat transfer efficiency and can be significantly quieter that standard thermal solution. However, additional space for the cooling solution and cost are the major drawback. Most embedded applications cannot take advantage of liquid cooling due to the required amount of volume needed for the total solution. Figure 13 shows a diagram of a liquid cooling solution.

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Figure 13. Single Phase Liquid Cooling Diagram

TECs (Thermo Electric Coolers). A TEC is a solid state heat pump based on Peltier Effect that moves heat from one end to the other due to an external energy (electrical energy). It is useful in electronic cooling as well as heating. The polarity of the electrical current supply will determine which side of the TEC will be hot and which will be cold. Depending on the application a computer system could take advantage of both the hot and the cold. The downside of this cooling method is high cost, low efficiency, and it requires external energy to move heat which in turn increases the overall power of the system.

In most cases the cost of implementing these solutions will not improve the thermal solution enough to warrant the increase in cost over the typical thermal solution, except for heat pipes which have become much more reasonable to cost effectively manufacture in the last couple of years.

Intels Component Thermal Specifications


The thermal specifications for Intels components are described below. These terms will be used to determine thermal budgeting for thermal solution design and help determine if a component can be used in an application. TJUNCTION-MAX Maximum temperature that the die is allowed to reach and still function reliably for the lifetime of the product. This is the typical thermal specification for bare die CPUs. It is measured at the hottest point within the die. System designers can monitor the PROCHOT# signal to determine when the max TJ has been reached.

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TCASE-MAX Maximum temperature specification for components with an Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) on top of the die. It is located at the geometric center of the IHS. TCASE-MAX requirement also applies to bare die FCBGA type MCH and PBGA type ICH products. For server class products the thermal specification is called the Thermal Profile. The Thermal Profile relates the TCASE-MAX value to the power being dissipated. Refer to the processor datasheet for more information.

Thermal Design Power (TDP) TDP is the realistic-worst case power dissipation for thermal solution design. TDP is NOT maximum power nor is it the amount of power that a customers application will dissipate in normal operation. The basic equation for TDP is:

TDP = Vcc [Dicc + Sicc ]


Where: Vcc - Voltage Dicc Dynamic Current Sicc Leakage Current The dynamic current is determined by testing a wide variety of applications and benchmarks. The worst case realistic application will be chosen for the dynamic portion of TDP. The dynamic current will be consistent from part-topart of the same CPU (e.g. Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor at 600 MHz). One thing to note is that the dynamic current can vary greatly from application to application. A customers application may not be able to generate the same amount of power as the TDP application. It is highly unlikely that an application will be more stressful and cause a part to exceed TDP, but the Intel Thermal Monitor feature is available to control the processor temperature in the event that TDP is exceeded. The static or leakage current portion of the TDP is determined by process technology, temperature, and voltage. The leakage current will be different from part-to-part, so for a given CPU, the power can vary. In order to get the maximum amount of leakage current, components are tested at their maximum temperature to ensure that the leakage current is at its highest possible limit.

Processor Thermal Features


There are a number of features available on Intel processors that aid in protecting the parts from thermal damage and also provide feedback to the user on temperature status. To ease the burden on thermal solutions, the Thermal Monitor feature and associated logic have been integrated into the silicon of the processor. One feature of the Thermal Monitor is the Thermal Control Circuit (TCC). When active, the TCC lowers the processor temperature by reducing power
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consumption. This is accomplished through a combination of Thermal Monitor and Thermal Monitor 2 (TM2).Thermal Monitor modulates the duty cycle of the internal processor clocks, resulting in a lower effective frequency. When active, the TCC turns the processor clocks off and then back on with a predetermined duty cycle. Thermal Monitor 2 adjusts both the processor operating frequency (via the bus multiplier) and input voltage (via the VID signals). Please refer to applicable processor datasheet for further details on TM and TM2. The PROCHOT# signal is designed to assert at or a few degrees higher than maximum TCASE (or TJ depending on the processor) when dissipating TDP power, and cannot be interpreted as an indication of processor case temperature. This temperature delta accounts for processor package, lifetime, and manufacturing variations and attempts to ensure the Thermal Control Circuit is not activated below maximum TCASE (or TJ) when dissipating TDP power. There is no defined or fixed correlation between the PROCHOT# assertion temperature and the case temperature. However, the Digital Thermal Sensor (DTS) reports a relative temperature delta below the PROCHOT# assertion temperature. Thermal solutions must be designed to the processor specifications (i.e Thermal Profile or TJ-MAX) and cannot be adjusted based on experimental measurements of TCASE, PROCHOT#, or Digital Thermal Sensor on random processor samples. Note that the DTS is not available for all processors. By taking advantage of the Thermal Monitor features, system designers may reduce thermal solution cost by designing to the Thermal Design Power (TDP) instead of maximum power. TDP should be used for processor thermal solution design targets. In addition, on-die thermal management features called THERMTRIP# and FORCEPR# are available on most processors. They provide a thermal management approach to support the continued increases in processor frequency and performance. Please refer to processor specific datasheets to obtain more information on the TCC, Thermal Monitor, DTS and other thermal features.

How to Calculate Required Thermal Performance


Characterizing the Thermal Solution Requirement
The idea of a thermal characterization parameter, (Greek letter Psi), is a convenient way to characterize the performance needed for the thermal solution and to compare thermal solutions in identical situations (i.e. heating source, local ambient conditions, etc.). The thermal characterization parameter is calculated using total package power, whereas actual thermal resistance, (theta), is calculated using actual power dissipated between two points. Measuring actual power dissipated into the heat sink is difficult, since some of the power is dissipated via heat transfer into the package and board.

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The case-to-local ambient thermal characterization parameter (CA) is used as a measure of the thermal performance of the overall thermal solution. It is defined by the following equation, and measured in units of C/W:
Equation 1. Case-to-Ambient Thermal Characterization Parameter (CA)

CA =

TCASE TAMBIENT Power

The case-to-local ambient thermal characterization parameter, CA, is comprised of CS, the thermal interface material thermal characterization parameter, and of SA, the sink-to-local ambient thermal characterization parameter:
Equation 2. Case-to-Local Ambient Thermal Characterization Paramter Components

CA = CS + SA
CS is strongly dependent on the thermal conductivity and thickness of the TIM between the heat sink and device package. SA is a measure of the thermal characterization parameter from the bottom of the heat sink to the local ambient air. SA is dependent on the heat sink material, thermal conductivity, and geometry. It is also strongly dependent on the air velocity through the fins of the heat sink. Figure 14 illustrates the combination of the different thermal characterization parameters.
Figure 14. Thermal Characterization Parameter

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Example: Calculating the Required Thermal Performance


The cooling performance, CA, is defined using the thermal characterization parameter previously described. The process to determine the required thermal performance to cool the device includes: Define a target component temperature TCASE-MAX and corresponding TDP. Define a target local ambient temperature, TLA. Use Equation 1 and Equation 2 to determine the required thermal performance needed to cool the device.

The following provides an illustration of how one might determine the appropriate performance targets.
Note: The following example is just an illustration of how to calculate the thermal resistance. The TDP and TCASE-MAX used in the example may not be the actual specifications of the device. See the component datasheet for actual power and temperature specifications.

Assume: TDP = 13.0 W & TCASE-MAX = 100 C Local processor ambient temperature, TLA = 55C.

Then the following could be calculated using Equation 1 for the given processor frequency:

CA =

TCASE MAX TAMBIENT 100 55 = = 3.46C / W TDP 13

To determine the required heat sink performance, a heat sink solution provider would need to determine CS performance for the selected TIM and mechanical load configuration. If the heat sink solution were designed to work with a TIM material performing at CS 0.1 C/W, solving from Equation 2, the performance needed from the heat sink is:

SA = CA CS = 3.46 0.1 = 3.36C / W


If the local ambient temperature is relaxed to 40C, the same calculation can be carried out to determine the new case-to-ambient thermal resistance:

CA =

TCASE MAX TAMBIENT 100 40 = = 4.62C / W TDP 13

It is evident from the above calculations that a reduction in the local ambient temperature has a significant effect on the case-to-ambient thermal resistance requirement. This effect can contribute to a more reasonable thermal solution including reduced cost, heat sink size, heat sink weight, and a lower system airflow rate.

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More detailed information and reference thermal solutions can be viewed in product specific thermal design guides located at www.intel.com/embedded/edc. Below is a list of typical form factors and the approximate thermal characterization parameters and TDP ranges that are achievable. This is just a basic guidance, the actual performance can change based on package characteristics, and system boundary conditions. Each individual design should be evaluated on a case by case basis. Take note that the typical Desktop (ATX) and server (1U and 2U) form factors have much lower resistance than the embedded form factors (ATCA, CPCI, and AMC).
Figure 15. Approximate Thermal Solution Performance by Form Factor

Cooling Challenges for Embedded Applications


Thermal management for embedded applications can be more challenging when compared with traditional markets like server, desktop and mobile computing. Some critical parameters to consider for designing embedded cooling solutions will be discussed in the following sections.

Ambient Temperature
The target ambient temperature for thermal solution design plays a very important part in the ability to develop an adequate solution. This was shown in the previous section on how to calculate the thermal characterization parameter. Embedded applications will typically operate in higher than 45C ambient temperature depending on the target market segment. Whereas
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solutions in traditional PCs rarely go beyond 45C, and usually are meant for operating at below 38C (normal operating temperature for home or office). Some of these higher temperature requirements for embedded applications are: +55C for telecommunications equipment. This is requirement for NEBS level 3 qualifications. +70C for in-vehicle infotainment and other commercial applications -40C to +85C for some industrial, military or aerospace applications in extended temperature range.

These high ambient temperatures affect the design of cooling solutions for embedded applications. The higher the ambient goes, the lower the resistance of the thermal solution needs to be in order to meet the maximum components temperature spec. In some cases if the ambient is too high then designing a viable solution will not be possible. Thermal solution designers should understand their target ambient temperature requirements and if at all possible, try to reduce it.

Form Factor and Available Volume for Thermal Solution


The available volumetric solution space for many embedded applications is very dependant on target application. It is usually smaller and more constrained than the solution space of typical PC markets. There are multiple reasons for the difference in solution space; some are governed by industrial standards and some are proprietary form factors that are unique and provide a niche for certain customers. The following table shows the dimensions of various form factors and the available height for thermal solution. Note that the embedded form factors are smaller and therefore, the available volume for a thermal solution is less. Based on lessons from earlier sections in this document it should be noted that a larger heatsink will usually result in a better performing thermal solution. Table 1 should provide a clearer picture of space constraints for thermal solutions in embedded applications.
Table 1. Form Factor and Solution Space Height
Form Factor 3.5 SBC or ECX EPIC SBC 5.25 SBC or EBX Mini-ITX SBC AdvancedTCA 1U Server 2U Server ATX Dimension X, Y, and Z (mm) 146 x 105 x z2 115 x 165 x z
2 2

General Max. Solution Space Height1 (mm) <20 <20 <20 <30 <13.7 <27 <65 <88

203.2 x 146.05 x z 170 x 170 x z


2

160 x 233.4 x 20.3 304.8 x 330.2 x 34.04 304.8 x 330.2 x 76.20 244 x 305 x z
3

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uATX

244 x 244 x z3

<88

NOTES: 1. 1. Estimated per general guidelines on the clearance between the system chassis ceiling and highest point of the thermal solution 2. z height is depending on usage, typically <30mm 3. z-height can vary depending on chassis. This is typical height.

ATX and uATX are examples of form factors for home and office PCs, where the solution space is unconstrained and more relaxed than those typically only adopted for embedded markets. They have much more room for thermal solution and can therefore develop high performance heatsinks which allow for high power processors, when compared to the typical embedded form factor such as mini-ITX. In general, form factors smaller than mini-ITX can be categorized as small form factors. Many of the embedded usage models require limited air flow or a fanless solution at the system level to ensure the system works in harsh embedded environments. One reason for this requirement is that it will prevent the need to send a service technician out to replace a failed fan. For example, ECX or the EPIC form factors will normally employ fanless system solution where the system will be solely dependant on natural convection and radiation as the mode of heat transfer from the system to its adjacent surroundings. This requirement will affect the decision on which CPUs can be used in the target form factor. System architects will have to consider cooling ability in addition to performance requirements when choosing a CPU and chipset. Intel offers a wide variety of low power and high performance parts, such as the Intel CoreTM 2 Duo at 10 W, that are ideal for these types of embedded applications.

Maximum Allowable Component Temperature


Due to the higher ambient temperatures and the constrained solution space of embedded applications, standard components from the desktop, server and mobile segments might not be able to be cooled. Therefore, a special series of components have been created to meet the constraints of embedded applications. For example, the Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor L5408 was created for embedded markets and has a maximum Tcase of 72C with TDP of 40 W. While the standard server processor, the Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor 5400 series, has a maximum Tcase of 63C @ TDP 120W as shown in Table 2. The resulting lower power and higher TCASE-MAX makes this CPU a good fit for embedded applications that require server class performance.
Table 2. Comparison of Embedded and Server Processors Thermal Requirement
Quad-Core IntelXeon Processor L5408 X5400 series TDP Tambient (C) TCASE-MAX (C) at nominal or 1U server 72 63 TCASE-MAX (C) at short term or 2U+ server 87 70

40 W 120 W

45-60 42.8-43.5

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The thermal specification for Intel Xeon products is the thermal profile. The thermal profile relates TCASE specification to the power dissipation. This specification is required to ensure product long term reliability. The thermal profile for embedded specific processors is different from server product thermal profile. This is to allow for higher ambient temperatures required by embedded markets. Figure 16 shows two thermal profiles, Profile A and B, that are meant for 1U server and 2U standard server products. The standard server will only allow ambient temperature of up to 43.5 C and a TCASE of 70C. Whereas, Figure 17 shows the thermal profile for an embedded processor that is targeted for demanding telecommunication applications. The embedded specific processor has low power, higher allowable Tcase and is divided into nominal and short term operating conditions. The nominal operating condition will allow a TAMBIENT of up to 45C and the short term operation condition will allow a TAMBIENT of up to 60C. This thermal profile will allow this processor to meet the NEBS requirement of short-term excursions to higher ambient operating temperatures, not to exceed 96 hours per instance, 360 hours per year, and a maximum of 15 instances per year. By tailoring server class processors with embedded friendly thermal specifications, Intel allows system architects the advantage of implementing the latest and greatest processors in their embedded applications.
Figure 16. Thermal Profile of the Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor X5400 Series

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Figure 17. Thermal Profile of the Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor L5408

Extended Usage
The typical usage conditions for embedded computers are different when compared to a typical PC. In some applications embedded computers will run continuously at maximum or very high bandwidth. For the PC environment, the usage is heavily dependant on the PC users, but the system will typically spend a good amount of time in an idle state or turned off. Thermal engineers designing for embedded applications will need to consider the extended usage of the parts at high workloads. When a component needs to be run in these types of conditions the reliability can be affected. In some cases it might require a better performing thermal solution so that the average temperature of the part will be lower. The extended usage conditions can also impact fan selection. Designers will have to choose higher reliability fans which usually come at a premium price.

Long Life Support


Embedded applications are typically targeted for more than five years of operating life and in certain market segments they will require 10 years or longer of operating life. The embedded components (CPU and chipsets) are available for sale for seven years from product launch date. Therefore, the long term reliability of the thermal solution will have to be considered and incorporated in the design. For example, the thermal interface material (TIM) that sits in between the heatsink base and package must be able to meet the thermal performance throughout the useful life of five to seven years for typical embedded usage. Thermal engineers will need to evaluate the thermal performance of the heatsink at the end of life time based not only on TIM degradation but the potential for the fastening mechanism (springs, clips, etc.) relaxing over time and not providing enough force on the package.
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Conclusion
Thermal solution design requires a thermal engineer to fully understand the three modes of heat transfer and how to apply them in their designs. Additionally, embedded markets have more challenges when compared to typical computing markets (server, desktop and mobile computing). Embedded applications have much stiffer constraints such as, higher operation ambient temperature, smaller form factors, and continuous operation. The thermal solution design must take into account the component specifications (TCASE-MAX, TJ-MAX, and TDP) and develop a solution that will meet the system boundary conditions and thermal targets. Intels Embedded and Communications group provides processors and chipsets that are targeted for these markets and enable system designers to successfully design a thermal solution that will meet both the components and their systems requirements. For official product specifications, detailed thermal design guides, and embedded reference thermal solutions, visit www.intel.com/embedded/edc.

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Authors
Hwan Ming Wang is a Sr. Thermal/Mechanical Engineer with Embedded and Communications Group at Intel Corporation. Chris Gonzales is a Sr. Thermal/Mechanical Engineer with Embedded and Communications Group at Intel Corporation.

Acronyms
SBC NEBS TDP ECX EPIC EBX ATCA DTS TDP Single Board Computer Network Equipment Building Specification Thermal Design Power Embedded Compact extended form factor Embedded Platform for Industrial Computing Embedded Board expandable Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture Digital Thermal Sensor Thermal Design Power

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