A method to predict high power processor thermal performance in air-cooled electronic systems at high altitude is proposed in this paper. This method employs non-dimensional heat transfer and fluid flow parameters to evaluate the impact of high altitude conditions based on measurement data at sea level. Experimental data including fan/fan tray curve, system air flow impedance and processor heat sink performance for various air flow rates at sea level are required for the analysis. Altitude correction factors will be derived from nondimensional correlations. By using these altitude correction factors, the dimensional fan curve, system air flow impedance curve, and thermal performance curve may all be transformed from sea-level to high altitude. The proposed method can be applied to thermal performance predictions of forced convection electronic components with or without air-cooled heat sinks. The method can be used in a system with any flow regime: laminar, turbulent or a combination of both. This method will be demonstrated through an example of a high end server system.

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