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EETE DEC 2014

Executive interview Vicor powers after higher volume applications By Peter Clarke Patrizio Vinciarelli, is one of the longest serving CEOs in electronics, having founded Vicor in 1981 and led the company ever since. At Electronica he told EE Times Europe that his company is investing to broaden its horizons. Vicor Corp. (Andover, Mass.) is looking to manufacture its power supply components in Asia, either by building its own factory or by licensing its technology and allowing another company to manufacture there. But most importantly the company wants to build out from the large numbers of high value, relatively low volume applications that have been its traditional home ground and into larger volume markets in computing, automotive and even consumer electronics. So said CEO Patrizio Vinciarelli when EE Times Europe called to speak with him on the Vicor booth at the Electronica exhibition in Munich, earlier this month. Vicor emerged in the 1980s with what was, at the time an innovative brick-like approach to high-efficiency switch-mode power conversion called zero current switching. Since then the company has expanded and enhanced its offering to cover a complete range of power products from the wall plug and ac/dc conversion via one or multiple dc/ dc conversion stages to regulation at the point-of-load. Vinciarelli who founded Vicor in 1981, has served as president, CEO and chairman of the board ever since. Having received a doctorate of physics from the University of Rome Vinciarelli worked at the European Organization for Nuclear Research known as CERN before becoming a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey from 1977 to 1980. Vinciarelli told EE Times Europe that Vicor is in a transition phase as it seeks to build out from its origins in high efficiency, highly-featured power supplies for professional applications. While it wants to continue to serve, communications, defense, mil-aero and industrial applications it is making ground into data centre server racks, in automotive and other higher volume applications, said Vinciarelli. Patrizio Vinciarelli, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vicor Corp. Here comes the VIA form factor However, the company is also in the process of introducing a new form factor for “front-end” power component at Electronica. The VIA range for Vicor Integrated Adaptor package was on show at Electronica and builds on the established ChiP (Converter housed in package) approach and have a standard width of 35.3mm and a height of 9.3mm. The units will come in lengths varying from 72mm to 141mm. The VIA range combines multiple ChiP packages inside a machined metal housing and adds filtering, surge suppression, control, monitoring and bus interface functions to create something that should be easy to design in. VIA will support a broad range of voltage I/O and power handling including isolated, non-isolated, ac-input and dc input, regulated and non-regulated. Vicor describes VIA as “an IC approach to higher power system integration and it will cover from 25W to 1kW and input operating voltages from 8V to over 420V. The first product, expected early in 2015, is likely to be a 400W, ac/dc input block. The VIA package is a machined metal housing that can be attached to heatsink or equipment cold wall. “We were an early innovator with ‘bricks’ in communications. It solved a problem in communications but it was not general purpose enough,” said Vinciarelli Vinciarelli said that had then become important for Vicor to build out its range across the various levels of ac/ dc conversion to 48V, 12V, 5V and dc/ dc conversion from these dc voltages using standard component foot prints. That involves a wide range of input voltage ranges, output voltages and power conversion specifications along with variants on cased and board-mounted form factors, power-factor correction isolated, and non-isolated, regulated and telemetry and control functions. “You need all the complementary blocks. The approach becomes more powerful when you offer all the blocks for an end-to-end solution.” “With VI-Chips we got close in high-end applications. Those applications included communications, defense and industrial applications,” he said referring to one of Vicor’s established product ranges but one that still needs a certain amount of designing in. Vinciarelli makes the point that Vicor is moving in to larger markets such as computing and moving down on to the printed circuit board with smaller footprint and lower height power conversion systems in package. With regard to power components for x86 server computers Vicor is already manufacturing in volume and meeting Intel server specifications. “We are doing very high volume – 15,000 units per week – that convert from 48V to 1.2V or 1.8V with isolation and current multiplication. One of the ways Vicor achieves this within its smaller components is by using printed circuit board technology to create the transformer winding “The transformer structure is embedded in 14-layers of high-temperature PCB. Magnetic core assemblies 10 Electronic Engineering Times Europe December 2014 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE DEC 2014
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