A cook-off test is a controlled experiment conducted to determine if or how soon a component, device or system will malfunction because of internally generated heat. If heat-related problems occur, steps must be taken to correct the situation before the hardware under test is placed into service or adopted as part of the design of a larger system.
Cook-off tests can be used by engineers to compare the thermal behavior of multiple hardware units designed for the same purpose but manufactured by different vendors. Such tests can be conducted along with other tests to obtain benchmarks.
Cook-off tests are commonly performed on systems with high component density such as blade servers that generate significant internal heat per unit volume. Blade servers provide maximum processing power in minimum rack space, simplifying cabling and reducing overall power consumption. But because of the high component density, overheating can become a problem unless careful attention is given to effective cooling methods and proper ventilation. As part of the development phase, cook-off testing can help to ensure the production and release of a reliable product.
See also: smoke testing