A detailed study was performed to evaluate the thermal performance of RF Modules and to identify meaningful correlations between specific design characteristics and the power dissipation needed to satisfy the required thermal budget under various critical operating conditions. The investigation focuses on the thermal characteristics of the RF module die layout and transistor cells, and on the thermal impact of the metallic air bridges connecting the load cells to the collector pads/vias to the overall thermal performance of the RF module. A first-pass modeling predicts higher temperatures than IR measurement, by ~20–30%. The addition of the die layout air bridges connecting the load cells in the detailed simulation models leads to a predicted air bridge temperature of ~9% higher than the IR measurement. Additional modeling reveals that between the open (not encapsulated) and the closed module, the die peak temperature differs by less than 3 °C, most of the heat being dissipated through the substrate and board to the heat stage. Thus, the impact of mold compound is insignificant. For a closed module, the mold compound helps dissipate the heat, so the die temperature is slightly cooler than for the open module (<<3°C). This suggests that the die peak temperature measured in an open module can be adjusted (by subtracting 2–3°C) to represent the die temperature in a closed module.

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