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Miniaturization of electronics is continuing to increase power densities at all packaging levels. Miniaturization arises from cost reduction, being the key driver in many industry sectors, resulting in increasingly tighter design margins and less tolerance of over-design. This is particularly true in the physical design of the product, where over-design results in additional weight, volume, and in some cases manufacturing and assembly costs, increasing the cost of the final product.
Removing heat is critical to the operation and long-term reliability of electronics. Component temperatures within specification are the universal criteria used to determine the acceptability of a design. Cooling solutions directly add weight, volume, and cost to the product, without delivering any functional benefit. What they provide is reliability. Without cooling, most electronics products would fail in a matter of minutes. Leakage current and thus leakage power goes up with smaller die-level feature sizes, and because leakage is temperature-dependent, thermal design is more important, as is the need to preserve power for Internet-of-Things (IoT) connected devices.
How, then, should engineering managers in organizations engaged in developing products that include complex and/or high-power electronics ensure the thermal performance of their products while meeting other design criteria?
To answer this question, we explore the following 10 key challenges in electronics thermal design.
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Bill Acito, Cadence Design Systems
The challenges faced by the PCB designers of today are significant. If we examine the breadth of designs, we find ever-increasing data rates and more high-speed signal routing that drive additional challenges meeting signal-quality requirements, including reflection signal loss and crosstalk issues. At the same time, designers are being asked to complete designs in shorter cycle times and in smaller form factors. They must come up with new and more complex routing strategies to better control impedance and crosstalk. Manual implementation is often time-consuming and prone to layout errors.
Dave Wiens, Mentor, a Siemens Business
PCB designers working with flex or rigid-flex technology face many potential risks that can derail a project and cause costly design failures. As the name implies, flex and rigid-flex designs comprise a combination of rigid and flexible board technologies made up of multiple layers of flexible circuit substrates, attached internally and/or externally to one or more rigid boards. These combinations provide flexibility for the PCB designer working on dense designs that require a specific form factor. Rigid-flex allows the PCB design team to cost-efficiently apply greater functionality to a smaller volume of space, while providing the mechanical stability required by most applications.
Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Millennials are the future of our industry. What does this mean for the PCB design community? How do we attract more of these smart young people to the world of PCB design? I asked Paul Musto, director of marketing for Mentor’s Board Systems Division, to explain the company’s initiatives aimed at drawing more young people into PCB design