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Old   December 7, 1999, 19:55
Default CFD software comparison
KH Chong
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Hi, I'm trying to identify a CFD software for the mechanical design dept developing portable and desktop satellite products. Thermal design/analysis comes up abt 3% of the project time. Software should have a good balance of ease of use vs capability. I'm in the process of comparing Coolit, Icepak and Flotherm. Comments from users are welcomed.

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Old   December 15, 1999, 15:02
Default Re: CFD software comparison
Steven Kimball
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I've been responsible for the thermal analysis of satellite receiver equipment at General Instrument's San Diego Division for the last 5 years. I performed exhaustive analysis on both set-top equipment , and commercial rack-mount equipment. We utilize both passive and active thermal management solutions in our products.

I have evaluated, used, and tested many of the industry's popular CFD programs. Based on my experience, I can firmly state that the only product that should be considered for the analysis of electronic equipment is Flotherm by Flomerics. My reasons are as follows:

1.) Commitment to accuracy and validity of solution engine:

Flomerics is a company run by the technical leaders of the CFD world. The corporate directory reads like a who's-who or "hall of fame" for researchers dedicated to CFD. They are a company dedicated to having the fastest and most technically accurate solution engine available for combination conduction/convection CFD models. The solver is the foundation to any CFD program. As you will see, Flotherm is built on the industry's most solid foundation. This is not a graphics program used to help sell heatsinks, Flotherm is the standard by which others are measured. If you research the competitors you will see that one of them was found guilty of plagiary for directly copying the Flotherm technical manual. This court ruling speaks for itself.

2.) Availability of Technical Staff to help on difficult problems:

It is foolish to assume that you will never need technical assistance in the CFD world. Program Managers will always come up with some bizarre product concept that needs a simulation. (i.e. Set top operating in a house attic at 10,000 feet ASL. include solar loads and snow chill, and account for 2 years of dust settlement) When problems like this arise, I always call for technical assistance. First, to see if anyone else has done something like this, and second to see if there are any easy tricks to simulating these conditions. The staff at Flomerics have always been my most valuable resource. They are extremely prompt, very insightful, and exceedingly brilliant. Additionally they posses the diplomacy of the most skilled statesmen. On the rare occasion that I have made a stupid mistake, they show me the errors of my ways without evoking any embarrassment on my part.

3.) Quality of outputs, and presentation of data:

Simulation programs are useless if you cannot extract the solution data and reduce it into a form that non-technical program managers can comprehend. Flotherm provides the largest range of post-processing capabilities. They give you the tools necessary to extract data in formats that are geared towards the analyst as well as a suite of tools that allow you to present the solution data in forms that can be understood by everyone else.

4.) Ease of use:

Flotherm is a program designed specifically for the electronics industry. Complex sub-structures, like fans or PWAs, can be created on one menu with a very high degree of detail. I once modeled a very simple enclosure with a general purpose CFD package. The modeling portion of the project took me over 30 hours to complete. When I first got Flotherm, I recreated that same model. In Flotherm, I was able to generate the same model in 15 minutes. Flomerics provides a comprehensive suite of libraries geared to the electronics industry. No other package offers this many useful pre-processing tools.

5.) Availability of outside help.

I don't know about HNS, but at GI, our projects come in waves. Sometimes we get so many projects that we cannot do all the work inside. On these occasions, we have to send work out-of-house, or bring in consultants. The advantage to Flotherm is that there are so many well trained people available to help either as out-source or in-house consultants. Choosing Flotherm is like choosing an industry standard.

There are more reasons, but I'm running out of time. You and I are geographically close. ( I can see your building from my window). If you would like to see how we use Flotherm, I would be happy to have come over at lunch time for a quick tour.

Steve Kimball (858) 404-2600
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