Power Electronics

Thermal analysis engine computes chips’ internal temperature distribution

Gradient Design Automation Inc. has introduced FireBolt, a core thermal analysis engine that enables temperature awareness in industry-standard design tools that analyze leakage power, voltage drop, electromigration and timing of automotive electronics and other chips. Gradient founder, president and CEO Rajit Chandra said that using such tools in 90 nm and smaller technologies without temperature awareness could result in large inaccuracies due to on-die temperature variations.

Chandra said the higher levels of integration and higher power density on today's chips are causing heat and temperature gradient problems that are not addressed by current methodologies.

“Existing design tools typically use a constant temperature methodology and attempt to account for temperature variations by considering a large number of statistical temperature points,” he explained. “This approach is flawed, first because each data point assumes a constant on-chip temperature--and that is no longer a reasonable assumption with small geometries--and also because the statistical distribution is usually aimed at worst-case situations, which inhibits design optimization due to the large design margins needed in such situations.”

As a result, Chandra said, it’s possible to miss temperature-related design violations. Gradient’s thermal analysis engine is said to provide a 3-D full-chip temperature map to account for the electrical effects of thermal gradients within a semiconductor.

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