The effects of neighboring components on the thermal performance of air-cooled electronic circuit boards are reviewed using a four part framework—identification, anticipation, quantification and optimization. Interactions are categorized as either isothermal fluid flow or thermal-fluid phenomena. Fluid flow phenomena include multi-dimensional, laminar and transitional flow which can have large spatial influences and exhibit unsteady behavior. The importance of all heat transfer mechanisms is demonstrated and the inadequacy of isolated component thermal characterization is illustrated. Effective thermal proximity of a neighboring component is discussed. Current achievements and inadequacies of experimental characterization and predictive models are described. Finally, proactive optimization strategies based upon circuit board layout and exploitation of unsteady flow effects are considered.

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