Optimizing IC Performance at High Temperatures
The Customer Challenge
Industrial applications such as down hole drilling for Oil and Gas present some of the harshest environments for mechanical tools.
A challenge for drilling companies is the need to operate sophisticated electronics in significant well depths at highly elevated temperatures. For these electronics, it is critical to maintain reliability to minimize downtime.
The majority of deep well electronics equipment use semiconductor integrated circuits that are rated for either the Industrial temperature range of -40 to +85ºC, or the Military temperature range of -55 to +125ºC. If components operate outside these specification limits, there can be performance degradation and even equipment failure. In deep well drilling applications, wells can reach depths of 5 km and beyond; combined with the lack of air flow and other cooling materials, mean temperatures can easily reach or exceed 200ºC.
One of the world’s largest providers of equipment for down hole drilling, was experiencing significant equipment yield loss and needed Rochester’s engineering assistance to identify the root cause of the failures and to improve their system performance.
The Rochester Solution
Rochester Electronics has extensive experience in semiconductor device qualification and test engineering allowing us to work closely with our customers to identify key performance issues and propose solutions. For this customer’s application, the Real Time Clock (RTC) provided by Rochester was required to function at temperatures of up to +175ºC and still maintain timing accuracy.
Rochester’s Engineering team evaluated samples of devices – some that failed and some that passed. Special test hardware was developed and configured to withstand the extreme temperatures. As well, test programs were written for Rochester’s ATE (Automated Test Equipment) characterizing the device performance outside of the datasheet specifications.
In Phase 1 of the project, Rochester’s Engineering team provided evidence that the real-time clock devices were still functional up to a temperature of +175ºC and that there were no parametric thermal “run-away” issues causing immediate device or system failure at elevated temperatures. This led our engineering team to evaluate system parameters feeding the RTC.
In Phase 2 of the project, Rochester’s engineers developed a simulated model of the customer’s system circuitry characterizing high temperature trends for all the components. The engineering team was able to replicate failures experienced at the elevated temperatures. The Rochester team worked with the customer and together they were able to accurately predict the root cause. This allowed Rochester to recommend key changes to the board circuitry minimizing the failure mode and significantly improving yield.
Through modeling, understanding the failure mechanism, and by working directly with the customer to incorporate simple changes to the electronics circuits, the client is now able to operate their equipment at elevated temperatures for extended periods thus minimizing down time and improving overall profitability.