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Cloud Solver: Thermal simulation without delay

Today, new technologies enter the market very, very quickly. For some of the world’s biggest companies, the focus is on launching new products or refining and improving existing models.

This rapid rate of change is perhaps most keenly felt in the electronics industry, which exists in a near constant state of evolution. In such a fast-paced and dynamic marketplace, electronics manufacturers and design engineers face numerous challenges.

In order to meet launch deadlines and satisfy consumer expectations, manufacturers are under pressure to deliver sleek and slender designs that feature high-powered, high-functioning hardware. They’re tasked with fitting powerful components into compact spaces without compromising performance.

It’s a difficult balancing act – increased power means a greater heat output, which can cause some products to overheat. In the long-term, this can have a significant impact on the usability, reliability and longevity of a device.

While thermal simulation software is widely used in the electronics industry, it’s for this reason that it has become an essential tool for design engineers. But one of the biggest issues they continue to face involves the “solving” process – in particular, the time it takes to calculate the equations that simulate heat transfer and air flow. The complexity of the equations in these simulations means they can often take days to complete – delaying the design.

To combat this, the latest and most advanced thermal simulation software packages have provided engineers with the option to transfer the solving process to the cloud. The benefits for engineers include access to the latest computer hardware, faster solve times and a reduction in product time-to-market.By taking advantage of cloud computing platforms, thermal engineers can also access far more computing power than they would ever have available ‘locally’ – removing hardware limitations from the equation completely.

Despite the advantages of solving simulations in the cloud, there has been a reluctance among engineers to harness the new technology, with many still relying on older hardware.

In 6SigmaET’s cross-industry report, The State of Thermal, conducted last year, this reluctance was one of the clearest findings. Of the 117 engineers we surveyed, 60 percent had not switched software simulation provider for over three years. While almost half had never used an alternative simulation package. This unwillingness to switch providers has left many engineers using outdated technologies, with only two percent saying that they currently take advantage of cloud-based solving technologies.

While it’s understandable that engineers want to stick to the systems that they’re familiar with, it seems surprising to see that many would be willing to compromise on the accuracy and time-to-market of their designs in order to avoid learning new tools.

As designs grow increasingly complex, thermal engineers cannot continue to rely on traditional hardware solutions and outdated simulation suites if they are to continue to meet the demands of the marketplace.

This is why we’ve partnered with Rescale, the high-performance cloud computing platform, to offer 6SigmaET users the ability to allocate computing resource on-demand, on a model-by-model basis. It provides access to a near unlimited computing resource, allowing electronics engineers to solve up to 300 million grid cells in a single simulation.

By delaying the transition to cloud solving, engineers are costing their organisations both time, money and, potentially, a device model that is far less reliable than their competitors. The end result is bad for both businesses and end users.

Tom Gregory is Product Manager at 6SigmaET

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Tom Gregory

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