Electronica 2006 Wrap-up

November 19, 2006 by Power Pulse1595211359

All last week, PowerPulse reported the major power product introductions at Electronica, but there's more to a major trade fair than new products. In today's "Electronica Wrap-up" PowerPulse brings you technology and personnel announcements. And, of course, a trade fair is also full of interesting "rumors." Today's PowerPulse also brings you a "power rumor round-up" from Electronica 2006.

Sipex Corp. unveiled a new suite of digital power technologies that were jointly developed with the University of Toronto. Demonstrations were given of a prototype 4-output multi-phase step-down buck regulator in which each phase could be treated as a separate supply or paralleled for increased output. The new digital power technology provides a total system solution bringing together power and management into a single solution.

"One of the major obstacles to an effective digital pwm architecture has been power consumption," stated Lee Cleveland, Sipex's VP of Engineering. "Sipex is known for low power consumption, high efficiency solutions. The new digital pwm architecture includes a digital pfm capability for high efficiency light load operation and a unique low power implementation requiring only 40 uA per channel when operating in pwm mode at 10MHz."

SL Power Electronics Corp. announced that Gareth Hackett has joined the company as sales manager for key countries in Western Europe. Having garnered more than 12 years of sales management experience in the power supply and rechargeable products industries, Hackett will be responsible for all sales and related activities in three key European countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

"Gareth's extensive international experience and knowledge of the manufacturing sector will help us expand our customer base outside of North America," said Greg Harris, Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, SL Power Electronics Corp. "Gareth's communications and multilingual skills, coupled with his experience and leadership, will help us develop high-level programs for our OEM customers while growing sales for SL Power Electronics."

Prior to joining SL Power Electronics, Hackett served as sales manager for RRC Power Solutions GmbH in Homburg, Germany, a global manufacturer of standard and custom power supplies.

PowerPulse makes no claims of "accuracy" for the following "power rumor round-up," other than to observe that these items were being actively discussed during Electronica 2006.

According to the first rumor, there is a company that has developed a bi-directional "translator chip" that converts between PMBus and Z-Bus protocols, and back again. One European delegate was heard to muse: "Who needs it? It would only be useful if both protocols were in wide-spread use, and as of now neither one is widely used." Maybe that's a strictly European interpretation of the situation.

Turning to the current Z-Bus/PMBus lawsuit, there was an active rumor that the legal action was not slowing down product development of PMBus-based converters, but it was clearly hurting product introductions. The rumor at Electronica was that "within 60 days of the end of the lawsuit, 100 PMBus capable converters will be introduced into the market." If this rumor is true, that's a lot of (speculative) product development activity based in an uncertain outcome from the lawsuit.

There was also rumor regarding continuing consolidation in the power supply industry. Commenting on the Power-One/Magnetek and Emerson/Artesyn mergers, one well-placed delegate claimed: "Those mergers were just the tip of the iceberg. There will be multiple large acquisitions by top-tier power supply makers within the next 18 months."

Then, there were rumors about "a major power semiconductor maker going private." Depending on who was making the "projection," one of two companies was usually mentioned: Linear Technology or Intersil. There has been a minor trend toward companies in other segments of the semiconductor industry "going private." It will be interesting to see if a similar trend starts in the power segment.

These are only the four "publishable" rumors that were floating around during Electronica 2006. Your correspondent heard another four that were even more "wild." It will be interesting to see if any of these rumors comes to pass before the next Electronica in 2008.