New Industry Products

Thermal Simulation Tool Reduces System Development Times

October 22, 2014 by Jeff Shepard

Future Facilities Ltd. today announced a significant update to 6SigmaET, the company's powerful, intuitive and easy-to-learn thermal simulation tool for use by designers of electronic components and products. Release 9 of 6SigmaET integrates a new CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) solver that can radically speed up thermal simulation, as well as introducing a number of enhancements to the tool's functionality and user interface.

Thermal simulation is a tool that allows engineers to assess the thermal performance of their designs and efficiently manage the heat generated by electronic components and assemblies. A better understanding of the temperature distribution in an electronic system can be used to fine-tune designs and enable the creation of products that are ever smaller and more reliable. The technology can also significantly cut product development time by reducing design iterations and ensuring that a final product operates within its required thermal parameters, enhancing operating life and reliability.

Simulation can also enable significant cost savings and return-on-investment for OEMs and developers. For example, it can reduce project delays and negate the need to redesign product enclosures and PCBs. Similarly, by discovering thermal problems before product release, simulation reduces the likelihood of product recalls. In summary, simulation can prove the differentiator between a successful and timely release to market, and a missed opportunity.

To be made ready for thermal simulation, component or system models are represented as a mesh of grid cells created from intelligent modelling objects, CAD models and PCB layout information. However, there are many ways to generate a suitable grid and its quality and resolution is crucial to achieving an accurate solution. Depending on available computational hardware resources, engineers will often need to alter the resolution of the grid manually to focus on the thermally significant parts of the design, which can be a time consuming and complex process.

6SigmaET Release 9, however, incorporates a new and revolutionary grid and solver that is completely different from competitive solutions: the tool provides a novel way to remove the burden of having to manually optimize the grid by navigating the trade-off between computing performance and grid detail to provide optimum accuracy and performance. The powerful parallel solver within Release 9 delivers groundbreaking performance, handling complex geometries and providing accurate and sophisticated simulations, potentially in a matter of minutes.

In addition to the new CFD solver, the new 6SigmaET user interface makes it easier to create a thermal model using intelligent objects such as power supplies or heat sinks, and PCB and CAD data. Import functions in Release 9 also include IDF, IDX, XFL and Gerber file formats from EDA tools. A new object panel in the user interface displays all available intelligent modelling objects and allows them to be dragged and dropped into the model. Powerful search functions make it easier to select the appropriate object to model a given component or subsystem.

In addition, the Release 9 version adopts a modern ribbon-based user interface that replaces the traditional menus and toolbars of older-generation products. Context-sensitive ribbons highlight the key actions available for each task and enable users to quickly find the commands needed to create and analyze a model. Once each simulation has been completed, a model can be exported so that any proposed modifications can be shared easily with other engineers.

“Since its launch five years ago, 6SigmaET has been recognized as the fastest and easiest to use CFD thermal modelling tool for electronics designs, delivering significant improvements in simulation modelling techniques and efficiency,” said Hassan Moezzi, CEO at Future Facilities. “This latest version of the tool integrates a revolutionary new CFD solver that can enable thermal analysis in a fraction of the time taken previously and potentially up to ten times faster, as well as enabling complex thermal models to be solved on less powerful computers. 6SigmaET is a tool designed to appeal to both experienced thermal engineers and those with less specialist knowledge.”