Thermal simulation software update increases speed and accuracy

June 05, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Future Facilities will shortly issue Release 10 of its 6SigmaET thermal simulation tool for electronics system design. The Release includes cloud solving, improved gridding and enhanced speed and accuracy in the thermal design process. The company points in particular to easier model creation, and to the refinement of its optimising solver.

Future Facilities presents its tool as uniquely targeted to the electronics design task. Whereas other approaches have applied a generalised computational fluid dynamics analysis to the task, 6SigmaET is totally focussed on electronics, its writers say. It works classes of objects that represent the building blocks of an electronics system; components, PCBs, enclosures and so on. These objects are modelled with attributes and an appropriate set of parameters,for example, says a company spokesman, “a heatsink ‘knows’ it’s a heatsink, it comes in all the standard variations and thermal properties of a heatsink, it knows it is attached to a component and should the designer move that component, it will move with it.”

6SigmaET includes modelling down to package level, including the detailed geometry of typical components and the very variable detail of modern (especially consumer) electronics products. “Simulation tool have [in the past] struggled with complex geometry,” the company adds. Release 10 introduces a host of new features designed to accelerate solve times, enhance accuracy and enable the creation of more complex designs.

At the heart of Release 10 lies an improved unstructured gridding capability, which is claimed to make solving up to six times faster by altering the granularity of its grids to account for varying levels of complexity in the model. This allows users to run more variations of their designs, large models with greater accuracy and in ever-shorter timeframes.

Responding to industry suggestions, Release 10 makes key thermal analysis tasks even simpler, with improved configuration of the simulation environment including altitude and solar radiation. Inputs to the tool in terms of heat dissipations of individual devices, are normally supplied by the user; either as in tabular form using expected power figures, or using worst-case maximum ratings. The engineer identifies peak-power-dissipating parts, and also thermally-sensitive items. 6SigmaET now also calculates the weight of each part so engineers can optimise their product to reduce weight. Through these enhancements, engineers can use 6SigmaET to develop designs for an even greater array of real-life and hypothetical scenarios, without the need for costly prototypes.

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