Multi-Chiplet Marvels: Exploring Chip-Centric Thermal Analysis

Managing and mitigating heat-related issues to preserve longevity and reliability.


The relationship between power consumption and thermal dynamics for chips is intricate. As power is consumed during the operation of a chip, it results in the generation of heat. This heat may dissipate from the device, metal routing, or the die itself, leading to increased temperatures on the chip. The dissipation process perpetually expends redundant energy, thereby compromising on the overall chip efficiency. Within the materials encapsulated within a chip, heat can be transferred via conduction, convection, or radiation. As long as heat is produced, it dissipates throughout the system, establishing a feedback loop. The apprehension towards heat issues within a chip is rooted in the degradation of chip performance as temperature rises. The escalation of temperature leads to a substantial increase in leakage current, causing numerous transistors to enter a runaway situation. Circuits are meticulously designed under reasonable constraints; however, when heat-related issues arise, one can envision a scenario where most of the power is generated through the charging and discharging of parasitic capacitances during transitions.

Addressing the mitigation of heat and its associated challenges within a chip or system poses a formidable task in the semiconductor industry.

From the bottom

In the context of 3D-IC and modern packaging, smaller chips have high interconnect density and clock frequency. As clock frequency increases, the heat generated due to capacitance-related power consumption becomes an integral factor to be addressed for effective thermal management in 3D-ICs. This scenario accentuates the complex trade-off between performance and thermal considerations. The operation of transistors and devices generates heat, prompting Voltus power analysis to elucidate the nature and quantity of heat produced—whether it be due to internal power, leakage power, or transition power. Concurrently, Voltus conducts an analysis of power and extracts information on the metal and via density within a die.

Upon the calculation of power and metal density, a succinct representation can be generated by constructing a power and metal density map with tiles, such as a 100×100 grid, facilitating the storage of results in the form of the Voltus Thermal Model (VTM) file.

To the top

As the story extends from the die to the system, the VTM file, containing the power and metal density data, assumes significance in thermal analysis. Conduction and dissipation represent the physics analysis in this context, integral to system analysis, creating a feedback loop with power production within the die.

Celsius performs thermal analysis using the die’s six surface temperature boundary conditions and the VTM file. Thermal analysis, incorporating power maps, metal density maps, and thermal conductivity information for each material, is completed through thermal conduction and dissipation. This process results in the derivation of a temperature map for the die.

The system thermal engineers can employ strategies such as heatsinks, forced liquid cooling, or fans to mitigate heat-related issues. On-chip temperature sensors further enhance efficiency by enabling precise control of each core’s performance in response to actual temperature. Advanced packaging, exemplified by 3D-IC, plays a pivotal role, enabling thermal dissipation not only along two dimensions but also vertically, thereby substantially enhancing system thermal capabilities.

To sum up

Managing and mitigating heat is crucial in preserving the longevity and reliability of electronic products. The significance of thermal analysis in 3D-IC designs cannot be overstated, as it serves as a linchpin in ensuring both the performance and durability of products. By anticipating the severity of thermal issues in the upcoming technology nodes, the chip-centric thermal analysis is a giant leap towards on-die and full-system PPA-driven solution.

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