New Industry Products

1U 3.5kW Rectifiers support Software-Defined Power Architectures

March 29, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

GE today introduced its new CP3500 rectifier, the latest addition to its new rectifier product line, providing industry-leading power conversion density capabilities for data-hungry applications. The CP3500 is the industry's first compact, 3.5-kW ac to 48Vdc rectifier in a 1U module and provides a higher power-to-space ratio than traditional 2-3-kW rectifiers housed in similar 1U rack or cabinet mountings.

This improved power density, coupled with the CP3500’s power conversion efficiency of up to 96 percent, creates lower operating costs and improved total cost of ownership for data center, telecommunications, networking and big data supercomputing applications. Customers can apply this density gain to deploy systems that provide up to 14 kW in 1U of rack space — 2 kW more than competing 3-kW rectifiers.

The CP3500 works with GE’s Digital Power Insight (DPI) software-defined power architecture suite, along with GE’s other new digital ac-dc and dc-dc power supplies, digital bus converters and point-of-load (POL) modules, allows customers to communicate with the end-use equipment via the PMBus interface without writing any software. With a set of four tools (command line interface based DPI-CLI; a simple, fixed-format graphical user interface DPI-GUI for modules and Bus Converters and CPGUI for the CP family products and the full-featured, multi-window ProGUI), the user has a range of user interfaces to match their development and testing needs.The three new features being introduced in the Global Rectifier Platform include these three capabilities.

Remote Firmware Upgrade - In earlier versions of GE digital front-ends, the three microprocessors managed their sections independently but did not have a lot of communications between each other. The stand-alone nature of each processor meant that firmware upgrades (if required) could not be performed. In the Global Rectifier Platform all three microprocessors actively communicate between one another and to the outside world. So now, if a firmware adjustment is required, the new firmware can be pushed to any of the three microprocessors through communications pathways that terminate at the rear connector. Examples of parameters which are defined in firmware include adjustments to default Voltage and Current Limits, Fan Speed, and behavior under extreme operating conditions. An example usage of Remote Firmware Upgrade capability is where developers, in coordination with GE R&D engineers, can trim the power supply operating behavior to better fit specific application needs. For example, a customer that uses the CP3500 in an industrial application may not require the same behavior as a customer using the CP3500 in a Datacom application. In such a case, the developers working with GE R&D engineers may work together to produce a firmware variant that tunes the CP3500 to the specific application. This capability exists on both the CP3500 and GP100 products.

(Notice the difference between what is adjustable via a controller vs what is adjustable via firmware. For example, a technician can change the output voltage of a power supply within the range defined by the firmware limits, but cannot change the limits. However, a developer, in coordination with GE R&D engineers, might adjust the output voltage limits (max and min) by adjusting the firmware. Firmware adjustments are not for the casual user. Any adjustment to the firmware must be tested and qualified to make sure there is no impact on reliability, performance or safety.)

Black Box Function – Customers who understand the digital nature of front-end power supplies also understand that there is a possibility that a wealth of digital information could be captured and retrieved for later analysis. In the Global Rectifier Platform GE now captures and stores digital data whenever a significant event happens in the power supply and that data can be retrieved and analyzed to better understand the cause and effect. If a major event happens for whatever reason, data associated with that event can be retrieved for study. In the future this feature will lead to advanced capabilities such as early warning of potential problems before occur. This capability exists on both the CP3500 and GP100 products.

Improved AC Input Measurement Accuracy – The digital nature of GE’s front-end power supplies give operators a great deal of control when it comes to maximizing end to end efficiency. By digitally communicating to GE power supplies, operators can actively match available power to the load. But in data heavy applications, the size of the load is not just dynamic; it can change over a wide range and frequently. For example, the power demanded in datacenter servers and routers is linked to the amount of internet traffic, which can vary wildly throughout any given day. The datacenter operator measures the overall datacenter efficiency by way of a metric called PUE or Power Utilization Efficiency, and they continually monitor and adjust the available power to match the demand. So operators stage the amount of available power to match the load at any given time. By actively communicating with GE power supplies they can turn on or turn off available power to match the demand. Prior digital power supplies could report real time power consumption but could not report it very accurately. In the Global Rectifier Platform, GE is introducing one more tool to improve that capability. In the CP3500 for example, GE can report its real time power consumption to the operator to within about ½% accuracy under normal operating conditions. This level of precision allows the operator to very closely match the available power to the load by adding or removing available power.

“Data center and telecommunication designers looking for single-phase power supplies wrestle with the constant pressure to increase power capacity while optimizing their facilities’ physical space,” said Karim Wassef, general manager of Embedded Power, GE’s Critical Power business. “Increasing power output to 3.5 kW in a 40 watt/inch3 package translates to better power capacity with more design flexibility in less space. Both the compactness and higher power capacity of the CP3500 make it ideally suited for upgrade and retrofit applications where more power is required in the same or smaller footprint.”

GE is introducing its expanded rectifier product line to address the power conversion and space-saving needs of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with data-hungry applications. While OEMs are pushing increased data processing capacity into smaller systems/boxes, their power requirements are still growing. As a result, OEMs are requiring power supply designers to offer systems that provide more power without consuming more space.

GE’s new rectifier platform offers expanded communications and diagnostics capabilities to provide rapid system diagnostics and response, as well as remote firmware upgrades, without increasing the system’s footprint. In addition to the new CP3500 48-volt rectifier, GE’s line of rack- or cabinet-mounted power conversion products includes its 6-kW GP100 line of high-power, high-density rectifiers for three-phase applications.

GE developed its rectifier product line using FastWorks methodologies, a set of tools and principles that integrate external thinking and discussion into the design process, bringing products to market faster than previously possible. Using FastWorks, GE was able to take feedback from customers regarding their power needs and their space limitations and directly apply it to the design of its new rectifiers. For example, in many applications, the installation of power supplies required customers to increase the size of their box or equipment to accommodate the unit size. In addition, the amount of power capability per bay in the telecommunications industry is reaching a finite limit. With this information, GE was able to design a new rectifier with a smaller footprint and thus, a higher power density — providing customers with the technology they require to address these issues.