Thursday , December 13 2018

Software Integration for Heat Transfer Simulation of
Electronic Circuits

Theodor-Adrian MANTEA, Tudor-George ALEXANDRU,
Cristina PUPAZA, Adrian-Florin NICOLESCU  
POLITEHNICA University of Bucharest,

313 Splaiul Independentei, Bucharest 6, RO-060042, Romania
theodoradrian@yahoo.com; alexandru_tudor_imst@yahoo.com;
cristinapupaza@yahoo.co.uk; afnicolescu@yahoo.com

Abstract: Thermal and fluid flow simulation have become increasingly important in the design and operation of electronic circuits, improving the performance and preventing their failure. The paper presents a software integration tool for coupled thermal-Computational Fluid Dynamics simulation of power electronics. The purpose is the extension, customization and integration of a platform, based on ANSYS Workbench interface to automatically create, simulate and explore the heat transfer during operation of electronic circuits. The authors examined recent literature, technical solutions, user’s profile, as well as new software functionalities. New trends on the topic were identified, but also drawbacks of the simulation tools available for power electronic components. The main objectives were to find a simple and efficient tool to perform the design, the multi-physics simulation of the electronic circuits and the verification of the results. The design of the electronic circuits has automatically been completed using virtual libraries and devoted software. Compatibility and format conversion have also been discussed. The platform includes acquisition instruments for experimental data that can be employed as input parameters in model preparation stages. The connectivity with the optimization procedures and further developments of the platform were explained. A case study, comprising a forced convection cooling for a printed circuit board, taking into account the heat generated by the active MOSFET components and the film coefficient generated by the fan proved the reliability of the platform.

Keywords: Software, Integration, Simulation, Heat, CFD, ANSYS ICEPAK, 3D CAD, EDA, MATLAB.

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CITE THIS PAPER AS:
Theodor-Adrian MANTEA, Tudor-George ALEXANDRU, Cristina PUPAZA, Adrian-Florin NICOLESCU, Software Integration for Heat Transfer Simulation of Electronic Circuits, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 25(1), pp. 69-76, 2016. 
https://doi.org/10.24846/v25i1y201608

  1. Introduction

Heat transfer is a milestone for electronic circuits design and combines the use of software involved in mechanical, electronics, fluid dynamics and material sciences. Computer Aided Design (CAD) in these fields has a very different approach (Garimella, 2012). Often the simulation takes place in stand-alone products, apart by the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) packages (Tatchell, 2013).

The demand of simulation software integration appeared as a result of the collaborative engineering in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) paradigm (Oh, 2015).

Recent reports on software integration for heat transfer simulation of electronic circuits (Gargiulo, 2014) are focused on model reuse, metadata annotations and search functions, to assure control over the shared data for complex web-based platforms. Other attempts (Sempolinski, 2015) aim to overcome the increasing programming difficulties with recent Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) codes on parallel computers for large systems, as well. Problems regarding the integration between computational codes and experimental data were analyzed for design activities of multiple collaborating designers (Adrianne, 2013), but solutions refer to high speed flow regimes. Flow diagnostic tools for experimental validation such as Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) are expensive and require expert operators (Ishizuka, 2012). These are usually restricted to large academic or industrial research and development groups.

A simulation environment for the integration of large-scale system levels for industry has been described (Whitfield, 2012) and a discussion about the coupling possibilities of the software was included. Open-source candidates, realization of the geometry, mesh, case configuration, boundary and initial conditions, solvers and visualization parts have been analyzed, but future work is still expected.

All these solutions are suitable for products with an increased number of components, where tens of thousands parts are included.

Literature and market analysis (Infinity Research LTD, 2015) pointed out that new needs and challenges are now to broaden the usage of the heat transfer simulation and to deepen the integration and interoperability with new software tools used in the design process of the power components for fixed and portable electronic circuits.

Nowadays two types of simulation driven solutions are available for medium-sized companies:

  • Sophisticated platforms, with plenty of modules dedicated to different types of circuits, that come with turnkey systems (Mentor Graphics, 2013), which involve sustained training and expertise;
  • Plugged-in solutions (Man, 2010), that are integrated in the CAD system. The latter seemingly help the user to swiftly handle the model, but bring other inconveniences: less accuracy and long computation time. For these attempts a correspondence of the simulation results with the reality within 3-10% is considered acceptable if the device is not used to the heat limit (Nunnally, 2014), so the results are far less accurate.

Another important issue regarding the thermal management of the electronic circuits is to decrease the heat generated by the electronic components in order to minimize their impact on climate deterioration (Alexandru, 2013).

This has to be done in respect to rules and protocols addressed by the ICT Challenges and Issues in Climate Change.

Literature overview pointed out that affordable, accurate and easy-to-use solutions are still expected by the users working in confined PLM market segments. Concerns are focused on the integration of the EDA with simulation and experimental tools.

The current paper presents a simple, but efficient solution for the integration of a Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) interface with EDA systems and libraries, as well as data acquisition tools and virtual instrumentation. The workflow allows a multi-physics approach, with stress computation and optimization procedures. This attempt brings the following benefits: the solution is simple, extendable, implies minimum costs, assures accurate simulation results, is flexible and allows rapid validation of the results.

The paper is organized as follows: the next section, entitled Model preparation peculiarities in thermal electronics simulation and user’s profile highlights specific modeling tasks in respect with the user background. The actual solutions foster appropriate simulation environments to include verification instrumentation. Then, our proposal, A software integrated architecture is presented, where the modules are described and the adaptability of the suggested scheme is explained. Section 4 contains a Case study that illustrates the efficiency and the accuracy of the simulation results using the proposed workflow. The Conclusion section summarizes the main contributions of the study and includes hints about future work.

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