Importance of Thermal Management
The objective of thermal management is to ensure that the temperatures of all components in a system are maintained within their functional temperature range. Within this temperature range, a component is expected to meet its specified performance. Operation outside the functional temperature range can degrade system performance, cause logic errors or cause comp...onent and/or system damage. Temperatures exceeding the maximum operating limit of a component may result in irreversible changes in the operating characteristics of this component.
In a system environment, the processor temperature is a function of both system and component thermal characteristics. The system level thermal constraints consist of the local ambient air temperature and airflow over the processor as well as the physical constraints at and above the processor. The processor temperature depends in particular on the component power dissipation, the processor package thermal characteristics, and the processor thermal solution.
All of these parameters are affected by the continued push of technology to increase processor performance levels and packaging density (more transistors). As operating frequencies increase and packaging size decreases, the power density increases while the thermal solution space and airflow typically become more constrained or remains the same within the system. The result is an increased importance on system design to ensure that thermal design requirements are met for each component, including the processor, in the system.
Depending on the type of system and the chassis characteristics, new system and component designs may be required to provide adequate cooling for the processor. The goal of this document is to provide an understanding of these thermal characteristics and discuss guidelines for meeting the thermal requirements imposed on single processor systems using the Intel® Atom™ processor 300 series.
The concepts given in this document are applicable to any system form factor. Specific examples used will be the Intel enabled reference solution for a system.