How Does Conduction Cooling Keep Heat in Check? – 8400-530

Current application demands of PCI Mezzanine Card (PMC) modules have grown from the simple addition of I/O and low-level communications to the servicing and off-loading of high performance software defined radio (SDR), digital signal processing (DSP), co-processing, and now re-configurable FPGA-based computing with gigabit interfaces. This trend of putting more and more processing power on PMC modules has led to new challenges keeping these computer hot rods cool. Standard, or commercial-grade, modules typically accommodate operation in 0 to 70°C environments while industrial-grade models will tolerate a -40 to 85°C range. However, many applications require additional steps to keep board temperatures within acceptable ranges.

High performance computing applications generally consume more energy and thus generate more heat, yet these same applications often require condensation into smaller physical sizes which complicates cooling. When these electronics are installed in mobile military machinery such as Humvees, tanks and UAVs which are regularly exposed to extreme environments, the risks of overheating are compounded. Uncontrolled heat buildup can quickly destroy high priced computers.

A number of technologies have been developed to deal with heat buildup, including forced air cooling, conduction cooling, and liquid cooling. Of these strategies, conduction cooling is the one technology which has been deployed and standardized to meet these new demands and make it possible for system design engineers to keep generated heat in check.

The ANSI/VITA 20 Conduction-Cooled PMC (CCPMC) Specification is designed so that heat generating components on PMC modules are connected to metallic thermal planes within the PMC. These thermal planes connect to a conduction-cooled ring surrounding an area dense with high-energy components. In conventional conduction-cooled applications, I/O is mapped to the rear I/O connector and front I/O is not used.

Keep Heat in Check with Conduction Cooling

Acromag FPGA PMCs shown with and without plug-in AXM I/O extension modules.

 

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