Low-profile thermal solutions required for cooling high-density boards

Advancements in the telecommunications, Internet of Things (IoT), broadcast, biomedical, and other industries demand more power, more data processing, and more capabilities. Engineers have been required to fill boards to the brim in order to meet the ever-increasing call for more and this high-density board design requires creative thermal management solutions.

Low-profile solutions
With today’s high-density boards, low-profile solutions are required to ensure proper thermal management even in tight spaces. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

Standard heat sink sizes are too large for many telecom systems, module and blade servers, or IoT gateways, where card-to-card and internal spacing is limited, and may not be designed to handle the lower airflow that is the result of numerous components packed into tight spaces. With space and airflow at a premium, engineers need low-profile solutions that are lightweight, compact, and will not sacrifice thermal performance.

Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) has several low-profile heat sink options that will give engineers greater flexibility in designing boards and systems while still managing heat.

Ultra-Low-Profile blueICE™ Heat Sinks

ATS blueICE™ heat sinks are specially designed for low airflow systems where space is limited. The heat sinks range in height from 2-7 mm and the spread-fin array maximizes surface area to enhance thermal performance even in low airflow systems. Their thermal resistance is as low as 1.23 °C/W within an air velocity of 600 ft/min.

Ultra-low-profile blueICE heat sinks are specially designed for high thermal performance in tight spaces and low airflow. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

The heat sinks are lightweight, ranging from 4-30 grams, and no mechanical attachment is required. Thermal tape is all that is needed to attach blueICE™ heat sinks to a component, which further reduces weight and assembly time and saves valuable space on the board.

In systems where boards are packed tightly together, low-profile heat sinks can provide the necessary thermal performance without significantly adding to the height of the components on the board. Also, the design of blueICE™ heat sinks removes heat from devices even with lower airflow.

Low-Profile maxiFLOW™ Heat Sinks

ATS has also made low-profile versions of its ultra-high-performance maxiFLOW™ heat sinks, available with either maxiGRIP™ or superGRIP™ mechanical attachments. The low-profile, spread-fin array maximizes surface area and enhances convection cooling, while attachment technology offers secure hold without a significant increase in footprint or the need to drill holes in the board.

Low-profile maxiFLOW heat sinks with superGRIP attachment technology maximizes surface area for higher thermal performance. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

Low-profile maxiFLOW™ heat sinks are designed for component heights ranging from 1.5-2.99 mm and the specially-designed fin array increases the surface area to provide the highest thermal performance per volume occupied when compared to other heat sinks on the market.

Using maxiGRIP™ or superGRIP™ heat sink attachment technology also gives design engineers more flexibility because of their easy assembly and removal. There is no damage to the board, which is important because of dense PCB routing and the potential need for rework.

Heat Pipes and Vapor Chambers  

In situations where low-profile heat sinks will not fit, ATS has heat pipes and vapor chambers that will transport heat away from a component and can be attached to a heat sink or the system chassis/enclosure to dissipate the heat to the ambient. These innovative cooling solutions will meet even the toughest thermal challenges.

Heat pipes can be used to move heat from devices to heat sinks, the chassis, or system enclosure to remove the heat to the ambient. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

ATS has expanded its line of high-performance, off-the-shelf round and flat heat pipes to provide the broadest offering on the market. Engineers can avoid the extra cost of custom lengths by selecting from the more than 350 product numbers that ATS has created. Flat heat pipes are available in lengths of 70-500 mm, with widths of 4.83-11.41 mm, and heights of 2-6.5 mm.

Vapor chambers are essentially flat heat pipes and provide another low-profile option for spreading heat. (Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc.)

Vapor chambers are essentially flat heat pipes that can be used in the base of heat sinks to spread heat. ATS has expertise designing vapor chambers and heat pipes into electronics systems to improve thermal management, especially with limited space and airflow. Their high thermal conductivity can move a lot of heat from devices and they can be easily attached to heat sinks to form cooling assemblies.

See how low-profile solutions are needed in IoT sensor-level infrastructure in the following video:

For more information about Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) thermal management consulting and design services, visit https://www.qats.com/consulting or contact ATS at 781.769.2800 or ats-hq@qats.com.

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