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Sharon Shepard | October 2006

Thermal + EMC Simulation Helps Get IT Infrastructure Products to Market 3-6 Months Faster


suppliers of it infrastructure equipment are designing newer products to meet more stringent class b electromagnetic compatibility (emc) requirements. traditionally, when such companies address emc design during the prototype phase, five to ten board re-spins are typically needed to meet emc requirements, each of which might take 2 to 3 months. more recently some companies have been addressing emc during the early design phase using flo/emc electromagnetic simulation software from flomerics. “flo/emc makes it possible to meet emc requirements on the first or second prototype, enabling infrastructure suppliers to get new products to market three to six months earlier than in the past,” said david j. dupuis, global electromagnetic business manager for flomerics.

infrastructure suppliers’ success depends on being the first to market with innovative technology. engineers working on emc generally have to wait for the next board spin which in turn is typically driven by functional design requirements. the cost for a board spin could easily be $5,000. for these reasons some companies are looking at incorporating simulation into the design process. unlike other electromagnetic simulation packages that predict emissions in the immediate area of the board, flo/emc provides a much more comprehensive systems-level approach that takes both the electromagnetic sources and the shielding providing by the enclosure into account in estimating the emissions of the product.

flo/emc simulation compresses the design cycle by reducing the number of hardware trials required and also makes it possible to evaluate more design alternatives without additional board spins and related costs. for example, in designing one recent product, engineers felt that changing the grounding scheme might help overcome a tough emc challenge. a series of simulations showed that moving the chassis ground layer from between the logic ground layers to the outside of the board and moving the logic ground to an inside layer helped meet the requirements. simulation helps this company get to market faster with innovative products, which in turn helps the company maintain its leading position in the market.

the award-winning storage networking solutions company - which prefers to remain anonymous - also uses flomerics thermal simulation tools, which provide similar benefits in thermal design of their products. the company’s products are getting faster and smaller, which increases thermal management challenges. pcb design engineers address this challenge during the early stages of pcb development by exporting initial layouts from cadence allegro to flo/pcb. the flo/pcb simulation quickly identifies hot spots on the board, enabling engineers to make corrections at an early stage when the cost is next to nothing. meanwhile, mechanical engineers use flotherm system-level thermal simulation software to evaluate products with enclosures such as storage switches to compare the performance of different fans and heat sinks and evaluate the flow of air through the enclosure. in one product, for example, the engineer concerned discovered a way to cool a chip without a heat sink, which significantly reduced manufacturing costs.

for more information, visit flomerics' web sites http://www.flomerics.com and www.flopcb.com

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caption: surface currents in a desktop pc predicted by the flo/emc software from flomerics. note: a high-res version of this image can be downloaded from flomerics' online image gallery: http://www.flomerics.com/news/gallery/files/atx2-30-08-02-03-10-06.tif

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