Unprecedented growth in the semiconductor industry has been enabled by decreasing transistor feature size. As silicon technology continues to scale per Moore’s law, multi-core and many-core are the new trends of the semiconductor industry. While bus speeds, features and functionalities are increasing, shrinking system volume, compact component placements on the board and system noise reduction are the trends. These silicon and system trends make the thermal design challenging. Validation platforms are used to validate processors/chipsets to ensure world-class quality and reliable Intel products. These platforms are usually open chassis to allow ease of accessibility. In this paper, we present an innovative methodology of active air cooling coupled with mechanical retention designs at the component level. Component level thermal testing data are correlated with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations to provide guidance for system simulations. Well-validated and correlated active heatsink thermal model can be used in the system level thermal simulations for studying the mutual pre-heating effect among the components around the heatsink and other thermally critical components. System level thermal design incorporating the effects of memory cooling, voltage regulator module cooling, graphics card preheating, air blockages effect due to probing cables are presented. In addition, system level acoustic measurements methodology is shown. Finally, fan control methodologies to control the noise below safety guidelines while enhancing the validation customer’s experience are presented.

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