Announcements from International Semi Makers at Techno Frontier

July 11, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

While Techno Frontier is dominated by Japanese electronics companies, this year’s event featured an unusually high number of announcements from international semiconductor makers including International Rectifier (IR), Vicor Corp., Renesas Electronics Corp., STMicroelectronics and ON Semiconductor. Announcements included Class D audio amplifiers, data center power, high-power inverters, home energy management and automotive motor drives.

IR introduced the PowIRaudio™ family of integrated power modules for high performance home theater systems and car audio amplifiers. The new devices integrate a PWM controller and two digital audio power MOSFETs in a single package to offer a highly efficient, compact solution that reduces component count, shrinks PCB size up to 70 percent and simplifies Class D amplifier design.

The combination of an advanced audio controller IC with MOSFETs fully optimized for audio performance results in improved efficiency, THD, and EMI, allowing the IR43xxM family to operate without a mechanical heatsink over a wide power supply range on either a single or split power supply. High voltage ratings and noise immunity ensure reliable operation over various environmental conditions.

The single channel IR4301M and dual channel IR4302M offer the flexibility and convenience of building stereo amplifier and multi-channel designs in various channel configurations, while the devices’ 5 x 6mm and 7 x 7mm PQFN packages enhance the benefit of utilizing a smaller size of Class D topology. Other key features common to the family include over-current protection, thermal shutdown, internal/external shutdown and floating differential input. The IR4302M also offers clip detection.

Also during Techno-Frontier Vicor announced its direct 48V-to-processor power conversion solution for the datacenter, cloud computing and telecom markets. Vicor’s Factorized Power solution complies with Intel’s x86 VR12.0 voltage regulation specification. Vicor’s current multiplication from 48V directly to a 1V microprocessor load enables more efficient power distribution and eliminates duplicate conversion stages found in traditional 48V to 12V to 1V power systems, yielding more than 5% greater overall efficiency in a package size that’s 3X smaller than competing offerings.

With increasing demands on datacenter and cloud computing infrastructure, efficient power management is a growing concern. Electricity costs can account for up to 50% of annual datacenter operating expenses. According to the company, the 5% efficiency gain enabled by Vicor’s Intel compliant power solution can reduce per-processor power loss by 10W – or 30% – which can yield annual datacenter electricity savings of approximately $500,000 across 30,000 onsite processors.

Vicor’s VI Chip PRM® non-isolated regulator and VTM® current multiplier deliver the most efficient 48V direct-to-load power conversion for datacenter and telecom applications. Vicor’s Factorized Power Architecture® (FPA®) separates, or ’factorizes’, regulation and voltage transformation functions into flexible, high performance building blocks, reducing distribution and interconnect losses and eliminating bulk capacitance with greater than 1MHz response speed.

In another part of the exhibit hall, Renesas added 13 new products in its 7th-generation IGBT lineup. The new IGBTs include the RJH/RJP65S series for 650V and RJP1CS series for 1250V. The new IGBTs are power semiconductor devices used in systems that convert dc into ac power, and are designed for applications that handle high voltages and large currents, such as power conditioners (power converters) for solar power generators and industrial motors. The 7th-generation technology, based on enhanced thin wafer process, sets a low losses trade-off between conduction, switching losses and robustness capability to withstand short circuit conditions.

Compared to the previous 6th-generation technology, products series of 600 and 1200V, the 7th-generation portfolio has higher voltage rating 650 and 1250V to address low temperature performance requirements and overvoltage blocking capability. Renesas IGBTs are targeted at three-phase inverter circuits widely used in large-current inverter blocks of solar power inverters or inverter-controlled motors for industrial use. In motor drive applications, the device short circuit capability is a design critical selection parameter. The 7th-generation IGBT series comes with a 10µs rated short circuit tolerance.

Down the row from Renesas, STMicroelectronics was demonstrating solutions to visualize domestic usage of electricity on home displays or gateways. These solutions include a power-line communication system-on-a-chip (PLC SoC) for use in smart meters and an IC for use in smart plugs.

The ST75xx STarGRID series, a PLC SoC for smart meters, supports a variety of modulation methods and communication protocols in order to transmit power-usage data from a smart meter or smart plugs to a home display or gateway. ST’s unique BCD (BiPolar-CMOS-DMOS) semiconductor technology allows an analog/digital/power circuit to be built on a single chip, contributing to a lower component count. ST’s STarGRID products are already used in smart meters in Italy and Spain.

In a smart home demonstration, the ARM Cortex-M-based 32-bit STM32W microcontroller with ZigBee support, and the STPM10 power measurement IC were used in wireless transmission of power-usage data to an evaluation board for a home display/gateway based on an STM32F2 microcontroller with Ethernet support.

Targeting automotive BLDC motor drive applications, ON Semi was previewing the STK984-100-E. This device is a full-featured BLDC motor drive including a direct control pre-driver and six power FETs in a single package. The package solution is based on Sanyo’s proprietary insulated metal substrate technology providing good thermal capabilities.

The STK984-100-E features a Vsmax of 40V, 4.5mΩ power FETs and a maximum current capability of 30A. Other features include a dual-stage charge-pump for low voltage (cranking) operation, overcurrent protection, over and under voltage protection and thermal protection.