White Paper: Fanless Design for Embedded Applications

Intel sent us a technical paper about fanless design for embedded applications. Here is the abstract:

Embedded systems opportunities for Intel architecture components exist in point-of-sale, digital signage, and digital security surveillance, to name a few. When selecting Intel architecture, several key metrics are performance/watt, thermal design power (TDP), and fanless thermal solutions. The objective of this article is to provide readers with key reference fanless system design considerations to utilize in embedded applications. This article emphasizes analytical hand calculation for first-order approximations and provides computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation techniques to determine Intel architecture feasibility in fanless systems. Examples depicted illustrate fanless cooling design considerations for a point-of-sale system.

Fanless Design for Embedded Applications Introduction

In markets for embedded systems, customers usually are looking for small form factors, low cost, high reliability and low power. The Embedded and Communications Group (ECG) within Intel Corporation addresses these specific needs for different embedded market segments, offering a wide range of products from performance to ultra low power to system on chip (SOC) solutions. Ultra low power solutions are often considered by many customers in fanless applications: examples include, point-of-sale terminals, digital signage, in-vehicle infotainment, and digital security surveillance.

For obvious reasons, fanless applications are getting more and more attention; simply adopting the currently available heatsink is no longer feasible. A clear understanding of natural convection heat transfer and how this theory can be applied to component level and system level thermal solution design is crucial. This article provides a reference for designing a fanless heatsink solution for a low voltage Intel Architecture Processor.

This article is divided into three main sections, starting with an analytical hand calculation to approximate an optimum fin spacing of a heatsink for a natural convection heat transfer, and then using industry standards in component level numerical simulation, applied design on experiment (DOE) to determine natural convection heatsink with optimal plate fin spacing. The final section is a system level computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis where a printed circuit board (PCB) form factor, component placement, and chassis vent holes are highlighted in the design considerations.

More info: Fanless Design for Embedded Applications (pdf)