APEC News: Texas Instruments, Vicor, Infineon and Fairchild Make Major Announcements

February 06, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

The second day of the Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) witnessed another round of significant product announcements from TI, Vicor, Infineon and Fairchild.

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) introduced what it says is the industry’s most integrated and configurable digital power management controller optimized for ac-dc and isolated dc-dc power supply applications. The UCD3138 gives designers an innovative path to increase power density and reliability in a broad range of power supply topologies used in servers, telecom rectifiers and high-power dc-dc modules.

Digital control capabilities allow designers to do more with their power systems, including re-usability of hardware designs across multiple platforms and the versatility to fine-tune performance and control parameters for each application, allowing faster time to market. To enable this, the UCD3138 combines a powerful 32-bit microprocessor, high-speed precision data converters, multiple programmable hardware control loops and various communication engines in a small 6 x 6mm package.

Vicor Corp. unveiled its new Picor Cool-Power™ PI3106 isolated dc-dc converter, delivering 50W of output power (12V output at 4.2A) in a tightly-integrated 0.87 x 0.65 x 0.265 inch, surface mount package offering unprecedented power density of 334W/cubic in. Combining isolation, voltage transformation and output regulation in a form factor less than half the size of a conventional isolated 1/16th brick and available in a wide 28V military input voltage range (16 to 50V) or narrow range 24V industrial input range (18 to 36V), the Cool-Power PI3106 is well suited for ultra-compact system designs where power conversion density is critical.

The Cool-Power PI3106 utilizes advanced Zero Voltage Switching (ZVS) architecture and control, state of the art planar magnetics, and ultra-high density Power System in Package (PSiP) packaging. The combination of these technologies enables a complete isolated dc-dc power solution within a high density encapsulated IC-like surface mount package. This high density packaging platform facilitates PCB layout optimization, offers the designer the opportunity to employ a variety of cooling techniques and protects the circuit components against mechanical and ambient factors, thus improving reliability.

The PI3106 reduces board area consumption by 50% compared to conventional designs, allowing for power conversion closer to the point-of-load, thereby enabling smaller form factors and higher efficiencies. The high switching frequency (900kHz) of the PI3106 reduces input filter and output capacitance requirements, further minimizing space and cost constraints.

Vicor also unveiled its new Picor Cool-Swap™ PI2211 hot swap controller and circuit breaker (operating range: +0.9 to +14V), featuring Picor’s advanced True-SOA™ and Glitch-Catcher technologies. The Picor Cool-Swap PI2211 provides superior backplane and system protection while reducing board space and design complexity.

The Cool-Swap PI2211’s programmable True-SOA feature ensures safe, reliable operation at both the system and MOSFET level during both circuit card insertion and steady state operation. The True-SOA feature provides MOSFET protection in the most ideal way possible by emulating the transient thermal performance of the specific MOSFET in use. By emulating MOSFET thermal behavior and digitally calculating the MOSFET junction temperature rise using the MOSFET manufacturers’ transient thermal impedance data, the Cool-Swap PI2211 can adapt its control, start-up and thermal cycling to the specific user-selected external N-channel MOSFET requirements, ensuring safe operating limits regardless of load and line conditions. Typical industry practice attempts this level of protection by simple timer-based constant power limiting which does not allow for MOSFET optimization and forces designers to oversize the MOSFET, increasing board area use and cost.

The Picor Cool-Swap PI2211, with its Glitch-Catcher voltage suppression technology, also mitigates the need for large external protection components by diminishing transient overshoot events and maintaining compliance with the specified voltage ratings. During a circuit breaker event, the PI2211’s internal Glitch-Catcher voltage suppression circuit controls the MOSFET to act as an active snubber, passing potentially high inductive bus energy through the MOSFET to limit overvoltage exposure. By shunting the energy through the MOSFET to the low impedance load, the PI2211 not only eliminates the need for external protection components but further reduces overall cost and total solution size.

Infineon Technologies and Fairchild Semiconductor announced the extension of their compatibility partnership to encompass Infineon’s proprietary 5 x 6 power stage asymmetric dual MOSFET package. Infineon’s PowerStage 5 x 6 is a leadless SMD package, which integrates the low-side and high-side MOSFET of a synchronous dc-dc converter into a 5x6mm² package outline. This allows reduction in design area by up to 85%. The package also minimizes loop inductance and thereby achieves a peak efficiency of 93.5%.

This extended collaboration which began in 2010 is intended to provide customers supply chain security while balancing the drive towards best-in-class efficiency and thermal performance in dc-dc buck conversion. It takes advantage of the expertise both companies offer in asymmetric dual MOSFETs which can handle over 30A and increase power density.