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Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Increased wireless bandwidth requires more attention to heat

The race is on to install 5G sites all over the world. But a 5G access point requires two to three times more power than a 4G site - and every engineer knows that more power consumption means more heat is generated. Active cooling is expensive and can be difficult to implement at the remote sites typical for telecom applications.

It may seem counterintuitive to start thinking about heat control at the integrated circuit level rather than at the board level. However, telecom infrastructure uses components in sufficient quantities that a small improvement in thermal management during construction can create big aggregate improvements.

This is an image of a telecommunication tower with 5g cellular network antenna.

More power means more heat

5G promises vastly more network speed and connectivity than 4G, and the transition is happening now. But to get the greatest benefits and bandwidth from 5G, telecom companies need to install many additional access points. Industry estimates say that each telecom site will require two to three times more power. Furthermore, 5G calls for 10 times the data processing speeds of 4G circuitry.

With increased power demand, more access points, and data processing speeds an order of magnitude greater than the previous generation, controlling heat on components and boards is a more important concern than ever.

Heat is the enemy of efficiency and reliability

Reliability in telecom equipment is particularly important. Network access points are often in remote or difficult-to-reach locations - on top of high towers, attached to ceilings or the sides of buildings - making repair or replacement difficult and expensive. In addition, heat exposes components to the constant physical stresses of expansion, contraction, and outdoor-related moisture. 5G complicates the challenge; its higher switching and routing speeds increase heat generation at higher power densities.

Active cooling is the traditional answer. But it may be difficult, expensive, or impossible at cell sites. Even where active cooling is an option, rising energy costs squeeze margins and make other options more important than ever.

Controlling heat controls costs

All networks need heat dissipation. That isn’t unique. Yet, effective thermal management is an important competitive differentiator. Materials such as thermal gels, phase change materials, thermal GAP PAD® materials, and thin-film thermally conductive dielectric coatings dissipate heat at its source. That can make a huge difference when used on circuit boards with micro-sized electronic components. That’s the case particularly in mission-critical telecom applications, where controlling heat can reduce physical breakdown and chemical reactions that degrade components.

The result? Efficiency that allows maximum processing power, lower latency, greater reliability with less downtime, and reduced cooling costs.

A small change for big savings

Rising demand for data, internet access, and bandwidth has increased the need for thermal management. Incorporating advanced thermal materials when manufacturing circuit boards reduces the boards’ operational costs and increases their reliability and performance. Controlling heat at the component level is a small change that pays big dividends.

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