052_EETE

EETE MAY 2013

Publisher André Rousselot +32 27400053 andre.rousselot@eetimes.be Editor-in-Chief Julien Happich +33 153907865 julien.happich@eetimes.be EDITORS Nick Flaherty +44 7710236368 nick.flaherty@eetimes.be Christoph Hammerschmidt +49 8944450209 chammerschmidt@gmx.net CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Paul Buckley +44 1962866460 paul@activewords.co.uk Jean-Pierre Joosting +44 7800548133 jean-pierre.joosting@eetimes.be Circulat ion & Finance Luc Desimpel luc.desimpel@eetimes.be Advert ising Production & Reprints Lydia Gijsegom lydia.gijsegom@eetimes.be Art Manager Jean-Paul Speliers Acounting Ricardo Pinto Ferreira Regional Advert ising Representat ives Contact information at: http://www.electronics-eetimes.com/en/ about/sales-contacts.html european business press European Business Press SA 7 Avenue Reine Astrid 1310 La Hulpe Tel: +32 (0)2 740 00 50 Fax: +32 (0)2 740 00 59 www.electronics-eetimes.com VAT Registration: BE 461.357.437 RPM: Brussels Company Number: 0461357437 © 2013 E.B.P. SA ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING TIMES EUROPE is published 11 times in 2013 by European Business Press SA, 7 Avenue Reine Astrid, 1310 La Hulpe, Belgium Tel: +32-2-740 00 50 Fax: +32-2-740 00 59 email: info@eetimes.be. VAT Registration: BE 461.357.437. RPM: Nivelles. Volume 15, Issue 5 EE Times P 304128 It is is free to qualified engineers and managers involved in engineering decisions – see: http://www.electronics-eetimes.com/subscribe Copyright 2013 by European Business Press SA. All rights reserved. P 304128 Thirty years of DC/DC power technology By Patrick Le Fèvre thirt y years is a long time in this extremely dynamic electronics industry of ours. I choose this somewhat arbitrary measure of time because it was in late April of 1983 that Ericsson entered into the power module market with the launch of the world’s first high-frequency-switching DC/DC power modules. These modules were called the PKA family and were designed to power ‘distributed power architecture’ systems. Compared to competitive devices, the modules were five times smaller and offered 20 times higher reliability. Actually, the company had started work a few years before in 1977 beginning with research into highfrequency switching DC/DC converters and the establishment of the company’s first advanced design facility for miniaturized DC/DC converters; but it was 1983 that the company truly announced its intentions. The inexorable level of innovation in this sector of the industry over the past three decades has been impressive with significantly increased levels of integrated functionality, increased power density with the introduction of new size formats such as quarter-, eighth- and sixteenthbrick, not to mention massively increased levels of energy efficiency up to the mid 90 per cent range. But perhaps two of the most significant trends in the industry over this time have been at the system level, each offering substantial possibilities to reduce overall power consumption. Firstly the move from the ‘distributed power architecture’ that dominated in the 1990s to the ‘intermediate bus architecture’ (IBA). Introduced in 2000 within the telecoms and datacoms sector, the IBA board-level power architecture uses master intermediate bus converters (IBCs) to convert a traditional 48V(DC) distributionlevel power line used in telecoms to typically a static 12V(DC), feeding DC/ DC point-of-load (POL) regulators which supply the final load voltages at logic chip levels of 5V and below. The second is the transition from analog to digital control of power converters. The PMBus standard, based upon SMBus, was created in 2005 and provides a method to communicate with converters over a digital communications bus. This has been followed over the past few years with the introduction of very high efficiency and high power density advanced bus converters that are fully digitally controllable and programmable; in addition to a wide range of digitally controlled POL regulators. It has been in the past couple of years that digital power has moved from the early-adopter phase to the early majority. Based on Ericsson research estimates, somewhere close to 50 per cent of digital-power based supplies were used in the telecom/datacom sector. Companies are being motivated by the unprecedented benefits offered by this technology to increase reliability and reduce energy consumption and the total cost of ownership. Looking forward to the next few years, we expect to see innovation in a number of areas. Already being deployed in a few high-end telecom/datacom applications, dynamic bus voltage technology provides the possibility to dynamically adjust the power envelope to meet load and traffic conditions. The development of new algorithms will make control-loop autocompensation increasingly stable for a wider range of applications, guaranteeing good DC/DC performance and meaning that designers will not have to worry too much about the number of capacitors or board parasitic impedances. And finally, one more innovation in the next few years that we expect is the combination of digital control and monitoring with the development of new Gallium Nitride based power transistor technology, delivering even higher power efficiencies. Patrick Le Fèvre is Marketing and Communication Director at Ericsson Power Modules - www.ericsson.com www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe May 2013 51


EETE MAY 2013
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