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Reducing design risk for networking equipment

Courtesy of QLogic, Inc.

QLogic, developer of high performance networking adapters, switches and ASICs, uses Coolit to save development time and costs in creating its own products and in satisfying stringent customer requirements. The software acts as an up-front tool enabling engineering to select the appropriate components and optimize air flow before committing designs to fabrication.

Custom designs form a significant part of the company's business. Typically designs are forced air-cooled with the customer specifying airflow, the operating environment (temperature, elevation) and airflow impedance.

In a recent design, adequate airflow was available, but high power density at the chip level demanded a custom thermal solution, because air flow impedance requirements made it impossible to use an off-the-shelf heatsink. By running simulations on various heatsink combinations, Qlogic was able to zero-in on a custom design that adequately cooled the chips while imparting very low airflow impedance.

"Thermal analysis is a risk reducer for us and our customers," notes QLogic's engineering manager. "It allows us to comply with customer requirements and have an early view into the performance. Compared to other thermal software, Coolit models are very easy to build, and processing is fast and very efficient. And the use of local grids reduced my solution time and enabled me to build larger models."

He adds, "Without Coolit, complex systems would require lots of testing and modifications to get where you need to be. With the software, development time is shorter, test time and modification time is limited, and there are fewer design iterations."

Qlogic always compares the thermal predictions to actual test results. While accuracy will vary somewhat with system complexity, even very complex models prove accurate to within 10%.

Up-front thermal design of high performance networking equipment such as this InfiniBand switch, greatly reduces QLogic's development time and cost.

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