Indium Blog

Thermal Reliability as an Afterthought

  • Burn In
  • Indium Corporation
  • Thermal Interface Materials

  • An article I just read caught my attention (To see the article which stimulated this entry, click here.).

    It outlined the need for reliability in consumer electronics. As a recent purchaser of the X-Box 360 who cried when I saw the "red ring of death", I'm glad that others in the industry are emphasizing the importance of thoroughly testing electronics before releasing them to the public.

    For too long, designers have relied on the people who are so intent on purchasing the latest products to market that they are buying products even when they have known reliability issues. This cannot continue because even getting burned once will be enough to turn most consumers to another brand the next time they go to buy.

    A particular sticking point for me working on thermal solutions for consumer electronics is that the thermal solution is an afterthought in many designs. Lots of energy is placed at the design stage for the semiconductor and the board layout, but it isn't until all decisions are finalized that thermal needs are considered.

    Hopefully this is turning around though. Recently I have seen a lot of inquiries on thermal interface materials for burn-in applications. This is one of the most important reliability tests for electronics. It puts designs through accelerated-lifetime tests for the best performance under worst-case conditions—high temperature and humidity.