The ever-increasing density of MOSFETs on an integrated circuit creates problems of substantial localized heat generation that can impair circuit operation. Circuits operate more slowly at high temperatures, and have reduced reliability and shorter lifetimes. Heat sinks and other cooling devices and methods are now required for many integrated circuits including microprocessors.
Power MOSFETs are at risk of thermal runaway. As their on-state resistance rises with temperature, if the load is approximately a constant-current load then the power loss rises correspondingly, generating further heat. When the heatsink is not able to keep the temperature low enough, the junction temperature may rise quickly and uncontrollably, resulting in destruction of the device.
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