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Comparison of BGA vs LGA in High-Power Applications

Blog  /  Comparison of BGA vs LGA in High-Power Applications

Comparison of BGA vs LGA in High-Power Applications

Dec 25, 2023

As electronic devices continue to shrink in size while increasing in performance, managing heat dissipation has become a critical consideration in PCB design. Two popular package styles used in high-power applications are ball grid array (BGA) and land grid array (LGA). While both BGA and LGA offer unique advantages, they possess distinct structural features that result in different thermal characteristics. This article will provide an overview of BGA and LGA packages, explore the thermal challenges at high power levels, and discuss design considerations and solutions for effective thermal management.

Understanding BGA and LGA Packages:

A ball grid array (BGA) package utilizes a grid of solder balls underneath the IC chip to connect with the PCB. The balls provide an electrical connection, while also facilitating heat transfer from the die to the board through the solder balls. BGAs are widely used for their high I/O density, electrical performance, and ability to scale to large die sizes.

In contrast, a land grid array (LGA) utilizes metal pads rather than solder balls to make contact with the PCB. An LGA requires an interposer or retention mechanism to ensure adequate contact pressure between the IC pads and PCB lands. While LGAs do not solder to the board, they facilitate heat transfer through the pad contacts. LGAs offer advantages such as reworkability and reduced stresses compared to BGAs.

For high-power applications, BGAs and LGAs are attractive options due to their high I/O density capabilities to support complex ICs. However, the heat fluxes generated from high-power electronics can pose unique thermal challenges for these package styles. Effective thermal management is critical to ensuring reliable performance.

Thermal Considerations for BGA Packages:

For BGA packages, the solder balls provide the main conduit for heat transfer from the die to the PCB. To maximize the BGA’s thermal performance, the PCB must be designed to effectively spread heat laterally and transfer it to the board edge or to a heat sink.

One technique is to place thermal vias underneath the BGA pads on the PCB. The thermal vias provide a direct thermal conduction path to inner board layers or bottom ground planes. This minimizes the heat spreading distance to extract heat from the package. High thermally conductive materials should be used to fill vias where possible.

Increasing the number of thermal vias reduces the package’s junction-to-board thermal resistance. However, too many vias can compromise solder joint reliability. Tradeoffs must be evaluated to optimize heat transfer while minimizing mechanical stresses on solder balls.

Larger copper pads on the PCB will also improve heat spreading from BGA solder balls. Thermal simulations help predict temperature gradients and identify hot spots underneath BGAs. Copper heat sinks or thermal slugs embedded in the PCB can further augment heat dissipation.

(Check technical guidance for BGA design rules here. )

Thermal Considerations for LGA Packages:

LGAs rely on conduction through the interface between the package pads and PCB lands to transfer heat. As such, the thermal interface is critical for minimizing thermal resistance. LGAs intended for high-power use will incorporate thermal pads rather than electrical pads on some array locations to maximize heat transfer.

The application of thermal interface materials (TIMs) between LGA pads and lands is essential to fill surface voids and improve heat conduction. Typically, a thermally conductive paste or film TIM is applied to the LGA or PCB lands before assembly. The TIM should exhibit high thermal conductivity and be sufficiently compliant to accommodate surface roughness and tolerances.

Thermal vias in the PCB underneath LGA thermal pads further enhance heat extraction. As with BGAs, thermal simulations of the LGA and PCB assembly are important when evaluating thermal performance. Factors such as LGA land dimensions, via quantity, TIM thickness, and contact pressure must be modeled to achieve the required heat dissipation.

Industry Applications and Case Studies:

BGA and LGA packages find extensive applications across various industries, including telecommunications, automotive, aerospace, and consumer electronics. Let's explore some notable industry applications and case studies:


BGA and LGA packages are widely used in high-performance networking equipment, such as routers, switches, and base stations. These applications demand efficient thermal management due to the high-power components involved. By implementing optimized thermal design strategies, manufacturers have achieved reliable operation and extended product lifespans.


In the automotive industry, BGA and LGA packages are employed in electronic control units (ECUs), sensors, and infotainment systems. The stringent temperature requirements and harsh operating conditions in vehicles necessitate robust thermal management solutions. Through careful PCB design and thermal simulations, automotive electronics have been able to maintain optimal performance under extreme temperature environments.


BGA and LGA packages are utilized in avionics systems, satellite communication equipment, and flight control systems. Aerospace applications demand exceptional reliability and thermal performance due to the critical nature of these systems. By incorporating advanced cooling techniques, such as heat pipes and liquid cooling, engineers have successfully managed heat dissipation and ensured thesafe operation of aerospace electronics.

Consumer Electronics:

BGA and LGA packages are prevalent in consumer electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and high-end audio equipment. These devices often require compact form factors while delivering high computing power, making thermal management crucial. Through innovative thermal solutions such as vapor chambers, heat spreaders, and advanced cooling techniques, manufacturers have enhanced device performance and prevented overheating issues.

Case Studies:

In 5G base station radios, BGAs efficiently dissipate heat from high-power mmWave beamforming ICs. Thermal vias, copper pads, and heat sinks maintain junction temperatures safely below 125°C despite 200W+ heat fluxes.

LGA processors in high-performance computing clusters use large thermal pads to conduct heat to liquid cold plates. The direct contact cooling maintains 45°C chip temperatures under 500W.

In radar and electronic warfare systems, stacked BGA memory devices with thermal vias handle 300W per module. The vias connect to thick center ground layers in multilayer boards to spread heat.


In conclusion, both BGA and LGA packages offer unique advantages and challenges in terms of thermal characteristics. By understanding the specific thermal considerations for each package style and implementing appropriate design solutions, you can effectively manage heat dissipation and enhance the performance and longevity of high-power electronic systems.

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