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Electronic Thermal Management - Technologies, Materials, Devices, New Developments, Industry Structure and Global Markets

  • December 2014
  • 206 pages
  • Innovative Research and Products (iRAP), Inc.
Report ID: 2828365


Table of Contents

“Thermal management” denotes the array of problem-solving design tools and material technologies that systems manufacturers apply to regulate the unwanted heat caused by the normal functioning of an electronic system. Increasing power densities and decreasing transistor dimensions are hallmarks of modern computer chips. Both trends are increasing the thermal management challenge within the chip and surrounding packaging, as well as accelerating research progress on high conductivity materials.

Dramatic changes are underway in the computer, telecommunications and consumer electronics industries. There is a trend toward systems “convergence,” combining computer, telecommunications and consumer system functions all into one system. There is also a trend toward micro-miniaturization and microsystem technologies integrating digital, optical, radio frequency and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices. Microsystem packaging is at the heart of all of these products, since it is this technology that provides the system integration in addition to controlling the size, performance, reliability and cost of the final microsystem.

High-density packaging has been the trend in electronic circuits during the last decade, and that will continue for at least the next five years. In 2013, a typical megaprocessor could pack a staggering 41 million transistors onto a single chip. Running flat out, that chip would dissipate 130 watts of heat – more than a bright household light bulb – from an area the size of a postage stamp.

The trend line of the thermal management industry aligns with the developments of technology in the semiconductor, microprocessor and computer industries. For every advance in performance of these systems, there is a corresponding increase in the operating heat generated by the system. To simply say, however, that demands for thermal management products have increased as the requirements of applications have increased, does not do justice to the unique character of this industry. It is probably more accurate to state that the development of thermal management as an industry is the result of a synergy of solutions constantly engineered to manage excess heat in today’s electronic systems.


The goal of this iRAP report is to provide an up-to-date analysis of recent developments and current trends in the global thermal management marketplace. The identification of significant drivers of revenue growth in specific product categories is an additional aim. The objective of this kind of systematic research is to quantify the projected impact of the forces — from within and from outside — at work on this industry today.

Products in this report have been grouped into four segments – hardware, software, interfaces and substrates. Product sub-segments within the hardware segment include heat sinks, fans and blowers, fan sinks, heat pipes, and cold plates – chosen because they are established technologies and represent revenue markets of significant size. The software segment focuses on modeling and analysis of the thermal characteristics of an electronic system. While the interface product line primarily attaches the heat sink to the system, several other product sub-segments in this technology are being applied to dissipate heat in applications where there is no room for a conventional heat sink. The categories of interfaces covered in this segment are thermal grease, thermal compounds, thermal pads, adhesive films and tapes, and epoxy. Finally, the report looks at substrates, focusing on two emerging package and component level products, thermally enhanced packages and heat spreaders.

Besides targeting the conventional market of thermal management products and solutions related to electronics usage in computers, telecomm, automotive, consumer, medical/office and industrial/military equipment, the report addresses electronics used in new applications such as high-power LEDs, power circuits used in renewal power (wind and solar) stations, high-performance embedded computing (HPEC) working at more than 5GHz frequency, and the growing industrial usage of electronics in laser machining and industrial robots.

The report also briefly discusses recent research work done on cooling solutions to address complex heat issues arising in commercialization of new three-dimensional integrated circuit (3DIC) chips intended for use in computers, tablets, cellular phones, set-top boxes, LCD monitors, digital cameras and video game consoles.


Development within the thermal industry is one of the most interesting sub-plots of the rapid innovation in the high-tech area. As the drive to achieve higher levels of device integration while reducing cost, size and complexity continues, the issue of managing heat and power dissipation has become very significant. Economic and market forces also are important factors. Consequently, current trends (market and technology), as well as potential breakthroughs in the near- and long-term future, become very important.


The information presented here is for suppliers participating in the thermal management market with a vital interest in the market potential of a specific technology in one of the product segment markets. This study should also be of interest to companies in the electronic materials, software and other industries, that have an interest in the potential of their products in a thermal management application. In addition, because of this report’s business focus, it should be of use to executives and business managers as an up-to-the-minute guide to current conditions that are expected to be significant in tomorrow’s markets.


The scope of this report is broad, and covers several product areas. The individual materials, hardware and software product segments are presented in terms of market size and revenue trends. The revenue forecasts are explained in terms of the key market issue for a specific product segment, and are projected for five years from 2013 to 2018. The application section features forecasts for the most important applications by product. The technology discussion concentrates on trends that will develop more significantly during the forecast period. The report also includes a discussion on the competitive aspects of each product segment, along with several successful suppliers’ strategies in the market. A current industry directory, a survey of U.S. thermal management patents from Jan. 2010 to Jan. 2014, and profiles of a selection of the leading thermal management suppliers are also included.


The study will benefit existing and new manufacturers of electronic thermal management products, service providers and solution providers. This study also provides a technical overview of electronic thermal management products, service providers and solution providers, especially recent technology developments and existing barriers. Therefore, audiences for this study include marketing executives, business unit managers and other decision makers working in the area of electronic thermal management, as well as those in companies peripheral to these businesses.


The thermal management industry is moving toward comprehensive solutions to cool electronics. As a result, the dynamic in this market has not been one where there is a move toward a single technology or product that replaces others. The tendency is for systems designers to look at the entire problem and evaluate multiple options and combinations for a solution.

There are four main segments in thermal management technologies – hardware, software, interfaces, and substrates.

Components of thermal management pave the way for the electronics industry to develop high-performance applications. This report examines the range of thermal management products and solutions in the market today.
The worldwide market for thermal management products is predicted to grow from about $8.8 billion in 2013 to $15.56 billion by 2018, at an average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1%.

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