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The importance of thermal analysis to VLSI design

Moore’s law should be essential reading for anyone involved in hardware design. Basically, it says that the quantity of transistors able to be placed on an integrated circuit board doubles every two years. This has been happening for at least half a century and shows no sign of slowing down.

The capabilities of printed circuit boards – memory capacity, processing speed, etc, are linked to this, and similarly are increasing exponentially. Moore’s Law is the scientific explanation of what many refer to as the technology explosion; it defines the history of technological change.

When you pack thousands of transistors onto a single chip, the array is described as a Very Large Scale Integrated, or VLSI design. One example is the microprocessor – except that today we speak in terms of billions, rather than thousands of transistors. And this has come at some cost. VLSI designs are in danger of becoming the victim of their own success.

Microprocessor circuits are now more complex, more tightly packed than ever before. But with this comes higher power consumption, and with it the problem of heat dissipation. Threshold voltages and CPU power dissipation (PD) – the way in which microprocessors consume and dissipate energy, some of which is lost as heat – have not kept pace with advancing technology. Scaling designs down is no good unless logic complexity is maintained. This has been achieved – but only by increasing CPU PD.

Nonetheless, VLSI designs are being improved, mainly through the use of thermal analysis and CFD software. We at Enventure Technologies offer state-of-the-art VLSI design solutions to help maintain your edge in the competitive, fast-moving world of digital technology.

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