Intel Technology Symposium

September 13, 1999 by Jeff Shepard

This year's Intel Technology Symposium (ITS, September 8-9, Seattle, WA) provided an interesting peek into one possible future for PC, Workstation and Server power architectures. The most interesting proposal made during the meeting related to the potential use of high-frequency ac (HFAC) power architectures in future generations of systems.The prototype HFAC system uses a unique 1MHz, 30V distribution bus and promises several advantages compared with today's multiple-output ac/dc power distribution architectures. The key advantages are significantly higher power conversion efficiencies and substantially lower power system costs. The target is for at least 30 percent cost savings over conventional technology.A fully functional prototype system was demonstrated at the recent ITS. The central power supply in the "New Power Supply Architecture" (NPSA) delivered 90 percent efficiency and included power factor correction. The associated "AC VRM" occupied one-third the volume of a conventional dc-input VRM.According to Intel, the lower the output voltage of the VRM, the greater the performance advantage of the NPSA. While the current AC VRM prototype delivered 2V at 20A, the next design will produce 1.5V at 50A. With processor voltages continuing to drop, the NPSA is expected to become the preferred power system architecture. There is already anticipation of a 1V/100A processor in the foreseeable future.Current plans call for volume production of NPSA power supplies and VRMs as soon as 2001.