Monday, February 1, 2016

Device getting hot? Good or Bad?

Heat is the death to your valuable device! Keep it cool! But HOW?

Back to year 2001, I had a chance to work with some project with some top mechanical engineers who had been working on several big projects. I actually learned some interesting things from them.  They totally changed my wrong idea of the ME design. One is the "overheating device" where most people believe it's bad but in reality, if you feel the chassis or enclosure or housing is pretty warm, that means your device housing is "proactively" dispense the heat that generated from the logic board and chips, or at least it's trying to pass on the heat to the enclosure then to the air.

In other word, if you put two identical logic boards side by side but with different enclosures around, one is plastic and one is aluminium, they would have slightly different life-span that caused by different heat-dispense methods.

The warmer aluminum housing is actually a better design v.s. plastic one where you may feel just slightly warm or nothing. The heat would be circulated inside the plastic housing much longer than the metal housing, which is a bad thing to your board and components on the board. The aluminum enclosure on the other hand could proactively dispense the heat and pass it on to the metal - as long as it does not burn your hand, you should be happy to get a metal case. Moreover, if you have properly housing design, you can pass heat to other objects that have proper contact to your enclosure. For example, heat can be passed on to not just the air, but to entire table. Using a overheating logic board without any heat-dispense design is not smart at all.

In EE world, the higher transfer rate would introduce more heat, thus, designing a proper housing to cover around the board and provide an efficient way to dispense the heat would be critical to the product.

A lot of new technologies nowadays claiming very fast speed and high bandwidth, no doubt that they all would introduce heat, such as PCIe SSD, Thunderbolt 40G, 10Gb, 100Gb Ethernet, even the Cloud server room that accumulates lots of lots of HDDs, SSDs, CPUs, Ethernet controller, Routers, Switches are taking heat as the BIGGEST challenge, thus, choosing a good enclosure is important.

I have seen some products on Amazon selling the identical products with different material of housings. I would choose the metal one which should have better heat dispense if the board and chips generate heat continuously.

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