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Jun Eto (Software Cradle, Software Engineering Dept.)
HeatPathView: Development Background


Jun Eto
Software Cradle, Co., Ltd.
Tokyo Branch
Software Engineering Dept.

HeatPathView was developed for version 10 as a visualization utility to display analysis results from scSTREAM and HeatDesigner. HeatPathView enables users to manage heat dissipation at the component level. It is a productivity tool that makes it possible to search and understand heat balances and heat paths in an intuitive graphical format. The following interview with Software Cradle's developer Jun Eto, reveals the drivers behind the development of HeatPathView, a feature born from the need "to determine the breakdown of heat transfer to help engineers make more informed thermal design decisions."

Tell us About your Efforts or Innovations in the Development

 I stopped to think about how to visualize the flow of heat in an easily comprehensive way. From the word 'flow', things like showing vector plots in postprocessors quickly come to mind, but I thought we needed an interface that helps us understand the whole picture more easily. In the area of thermal design, there are some methods other than CFD to calculate temperature, such as hand calculations using empirical formulas or by creating thermal networks. The downside to these approaches is that they can't show any detailed distributions as outputs, but I have long felt they offer the advantage of being simple and easy to understand. CFD of course has very detailed, element-level information, but it is not necessarily easy for the users to understand the whole picture. I thought we should turn element level CFD information into one-dimensional thermal network information, and provide a way to visualize it.

 Next, I wanted to arrange the information in words and terms familiar to design engineers. I thought if we could report analysis results in heat-transfer engineering terminologies, such as the 'three fundamental forms of heat transfer (conduction, convection, and radiation)', 'heat path', and 'thermal resistance', then analysis results could be more approachable for design engineers.

 Lastly, I make sure it would be highly usable. With the improving performance of computers, the scales of analysis are getting larger every year. Users are conducting analyses with hundreds of millions of elements, and it's expected the scales will continue to get larger, so I set out to make this tool be able to show results as quickly as possible regardless of analysis scales.

 ​With these objectives, we developed a beta version of the tool. Then, we brushed up the details and we asked some of our clients to use the beta version. We interviewed them for comments and feedback and incorporated these improvements at release 10.


Figure 3. Heat dissipation/reception balance of the heat sink (click to enlarge)

What are the Features of HeatPathView, and How Can We Use Them?

 HeatPathView has mainly three features. I'd like to introduce those features using an example of an LED light bulb analysis. First, the [Part temperature] tab shows the list of maximum and average temperature, amount of heat generation, and material name for each component. Here, you can check if the component of interest meets its temperature margin, or if there are any components with unexpectedly high temperatures. Moreover, you can get temperature rise per watt and density of heat generation, which can help you compare heat dissipation capabilities of components with different amounts of heat generation.

 Next, in the [Heat balance] tab, you can see how much heat is dissipated from the component of interest and to which components receive the dissipated heat. Conversely we can see which components are dissipating heat to our component of interest. Figure 3 shows the heat dissipation and reception balance for the heat sink. You can see that it receives heat from the aluminum board, and fifty percent of that heat is lost to the air through convection, twenty five percent to the side cover through conduction, and another twenty percent through radiation. Knowing heat dissipation balance helps us make guidelines for an effective thermal management tailored to the situation. It is difficult from measurements to know which of the 'three fundamental forms of heat transfer', that is, conduction, convection, and radiation, are responsible for the heat dissipation. This is the kind of output truly unique to analysis.

Figure 4. Heat path from the LED device (click to enlarge)

 Lastly, there is the [Heat path] tab. In the [Heat path] tab, you can view the heat dissipation path from the component of interest. Figure 4 shows the primary heat path from the LED device. You can see the heat is transferred to the air from the LED device, through the board, then through the heat sink. Because the basics of thermal design and thermal management tell us to reduce thermal resistances in the heat path, we decided to show not only the temperature of components along heat paths but also values derived for the concept of thermal resistance between components. This enables us to easily judge which part of a heat path countermeasures are effective. In addition to the primary heat path, you can explore the secondary or a the third heat path by switching over the sliding bar, and pick out a heat path or a part of it that's being the bottleneck. For those components that generate heat, it is important to know the bottleneck in heat path like this. On the other hand, for those components that generate no heat and are thermally susceptible, it is important to know heat reception paths. In HeatPathView, the display can be easily switched between heat dissipation and reception path, and for those components, checking their heat reception paths helps us find a location to give a countermeasures for shutting off heat reception.

Before Ending, Please Give a Message to the Users

 ​HeatPathView enables you to view analysis results from a new perspective, that is, from the vantage point of "Heat Flow". And we fully expect a new perspective to bring new discoveries. I hope you will take a look at your analyses in the past from this perspective. It will give me a great pleasure if this tool will be of some help to the engineering community when it comes to thermal design and management.

*All product and service names mentioned are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies.
*Contents and specifications of products are as of November 28, 2012 and subject to change without notice. We shall not be held liable for any errors in figures and pictures, or any typographical errors.



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