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This paper shows a practical approach to GaN-based HEMT self-consistent electro-thermal simulation for circuit modeling and reliability estimation. A physical-level lumped element dynamic thermal network able to describe the 2-D device geometry is self-consistently coupled with a novel electro-thermal compact large-signal model. The results obtained with the lumped-element thermal network are compared with finite-element simulations and shown to provide valuable estimates of the thermal behavior of very large 2-D structures. Measured results taken at ambient temperatures between 200 and 400 K are shown to be well described by the model.