Composite thermal capacitors for transient thermal management of multicore microprocessors
Green, Craig Elkton
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While 3D stacked multi-processor technology offers the potential for significant computing advantages, these architectures also face the significant challenge of small, localized hotspots with very large heat fluxes due to the placement of asymmetric cores, heterogeneous devices and performance driven layouts. In this thesis, a new thermal management solution is introduced that seeks to maximize the performance of microprocessors with dynamically managed power profiles. To mitigate the non-uniformities in chip temperature profiles resulting from the dynamic power maps, solid-liquid phase change materials (PCMs) with an embedded heat spreader network are strategically positioned near localized hotspots, resulting in a large increase in the local thermal capacitance in these problematic areas. Theoretical analysis shows that the increase in local thermal capacitance results in an almost twenty-fold increase in the time that a thermally constrained core can operate before a power gating or core migration event is required. Coupled to the PCMs are solid state coolers (SSCs) that serve as a means for fast regeneration of the PCMs during the cool down periods associated with throttling events. Using this combined PCM/SSC approach allows for devices that operate with the desirable combination of low throttling frequency and large overall core duty cycles, thus maximizing computational throughput. The impact of the thermophysical properties of the PCM on the device operating characteristics has been investigated from first principles in order to better inform the PCM selection or design process. Complementary to the theoretical characterization of the proposed thermal solution, a prototype device called a "Composite Thermal Capacitor (CTC)" that monolithically integrates micro heaters, PCMs and a spreader matrix into a Si test chip was fabricated and tested to validate the efficacy of the concept. A prototype CTC was shown to increase allowable device operating times by over 7X and address heat fluxes of up to ~395 W/cm2. Various methods for regenerating the CTC have been investigated, including air, liquid, and solid state cooling, and operational duty cycles of over 60% have been demonstrated.