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IBM accelerates blade server design

Courtesy of IBM

IBM's Boeblingen, Germany Development and Research Site develops very densely packed blade servers, often having several new systems and performance enhancements in development simultaneously. Each server consists of a high density pc board for which optimum component placement, particularly of processor chips, power supplies and switches, is crucial to cool operation.

Designs originate with the architects, who previously had to wait in queue for thermal analysis assistance from the mechanical engineering department. To eliminate these delays, architectural engineering began doing its own CFD analysis, using CoolitPCB.

Analyses are performed quickly at the architect's desk. Iterations are run on his schedule without the need to shuffle information back and forth between departments. Once the board architecture and optimization is completed, the design is turned over to thermal engineering for system integration.

Typical applications have included a design with 8 DIMM sockets (dual in-line memory modules). If the sockets were placed too close together, it would inhibit airflow; if spaced too far apart, they would consume valuable real estate. CoolitPCB quickly predicted the impact of the various spacing scenarios and enabled the architect to determine the optimum spacing solution.

In another application, excessive heat was being generated across the board. CoolitPCB pinpointed the source: high heat levels being transmitted from a BGA through its pins and ground planes. The predictions proved to be within 5-6% of the actual temperatures.

With CoolitPCB, Boeblingen Lab is now catching and fixing potential thermal problems earlier, reducing development time and bringing new products to market faster.

CoolitPCB model of a blade server board with stream rods painted in velocity magnitude.
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