Darnell Identifies Next Major Power Architecture

December 09, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

The Dynamic Bus Architecture (DBA) is poised to be the "next big thing" in the power supply industry, advancing the distributed power architecture model in ways that will change how power supplies are designed and implemented, according to Darnell Group. The DBA is already being designed into some high-end systems, and widespread adoption is expected in the next few years.

The challenge for dc-dc converter module makers is how the Intermediate Bus Architecture (IBA) has been evolving: customers are demanding more efficiency, as well as configurability and optimization. These demands have led to the DBA, which consists of board-mounted dc-dc converters or point-of-load (POL) regulators that communicate with a centralized power system host control via a digital communications bus. The firmware is reconfigurable to specific applications, with "energy optimization algorithms" built in.

As global economies slowly recover from the recession, companies are looking to keep costs low and optimize the equipment they already have. This means increasing efficiency across all application areas. Most of the distributed power architectures being implemented today include some form of digital power management and control. Digital control has become a "given" in most systems, especially computer and communications applications. "Power supply designers" are becoming "system designers," and many of them utilize digital control techniques when appropriate, rather than analog. The evolution of the IBA, from the Central Control Architecture (CCA) to the emerging DBA, is in part due to system demands that digital power management can address effectively.

The architecture makes use of a Digital Bus Converter (DBC), which is able to dynamically optimize its intrinsic efficiency, along with overall system efficiency, and can be controlled and monitored. Companies like Ericsson Power Modules are already introducing products for this architecture, such as the BMR453, which they call an "Advanced Bus Converter." Such developments are expected to drive accelerated adoption of the new power architecture. In addition, the emergence of the DBC threatens to obsolete all of today’s analog bus converter products, including unregulated, semi-regulated and even regulated devices.

These trends are discussed in detail in Darnell’s new, updated report, "DC-DC Converter Modules and ICs: Economic Factors, Application Drivers, Business Models, Packaging and Technology Developments," to be released in January, 2011.