As semiconductor device feature size scales and circuit performance increases, power dissipation and thermal management are becoming very important. Attention to thermal considerations is required throughout the chip development cycle from preliminary architecture planning to deployment on customer board and beyond. This paper describes a versatile thermal test vehicle that can be used to address these requirements. We discuss the architecture and implementation of a specially designed test-vehicle chip, followed by its operation. The programmability and flexibility of this vehicle will be highlighted. In addition, we cover other usage of this vehicle which includes modelling of chip-level thermal behavior with different floorplan, simulating thermal loads in IoT FPGA applications, cross-calibrating thermal numerical simulators with measured silicon data and evaluating the thermal impact of different package form-factor / material (such as thermal interface material) and cooling solutions.

The abovementioned chip was fabricated using 0.18um technology and assembled in a flip-chip package. The reminder of this evaluation system is a simple, inexpensive tester from which a software is run to program the chip and to measure the spatial & temporal temperature values. Measured thermal data from different use cases are presented in this paper.

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