ITG, STMicro Add Magnetics for AI Data Centers

March 11, 2024 by Mike Falter

ITG Electronics and STMicroelectronics team up to develop advanced magnetic components, expanding the capabilities of artificial intelligence and data center power conversion applications.

ITG Electronics, a leading manufacturer of magnetic and EMI components, is partnering up with global semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics to develop the next generation of magnetic components for artificial intelligence (AI) and data center power conversion systems.    

The partnership will develop solutions for ST’s patented 48 V to 12 V stacked buck converter reference design that uses the PM6780 dual digital multiphase controller and STPRDC02A high-voltage full-bridge drivers. By incorporating ITG’s L101353A-3R6MHF non-coupling dual inductors, the reference supply’s power capacity will expand to as much as 1,500 W.


Data center.

Data center. Image used courtesy of Adobe Stock

The collaboration, named the stacked buck converter with unified coupled inductor, will introduce cost savings, performance improvements, and design flexibility for power modules in AI and high-power centralized computing applications.   


Market Momentum for AI

It is difficult to overstate the amount of interest and industry focus, along with some hype, currently in the AI sector, which has gained momentum in the past couple of years with the public release of OpenAI’s GPT large language models. Corporate and venture capital investment dollars have been flowing into the sector as companies look to position themselves to capitalize on emerging opportunities.    

As evidence of the momentum, AI chip manufacturer NVIDIA has reached nearly $2 trillion in value, with the company’s most recent quarterly sales tripling year over year based on continued strong end-market demand for AI processing infrastructure.


Grace CPU Superchip

Grace CPU Superchip. Image used courtesy of NVIDIA


Tech leaders Meta, Google, and Microsoft continue to purchase tens of thousands of NVIDIA’s most advanced processors valued at billions of dollars.  


Powering AI Processors

Advanced AI chips from companies like NVIDIA and Intel require significant amounts of power (1,000 W or more) to operate, typically at low voltages (3.0 V or less) and with high load currents. Larger AI systems may comprise significant numbers of these CPUs (central processing units).   

Within the larger data center power conversion architecture, ST’s stacked buck converter design converts the nominal 48 VDC input bus to an intermediate 12 VDC.  This powers the point of load converters that generate the processor core and I/O rails. Similar architectures have been used in telecom power systems for decades and are now mandatory for data center systems that use high-power digital processors. 

To meet the high-power demands of a CPU, a stacked buck converter topology interleaves two out-of-phase buck converter channels to deliver power to a single processing load. The result is a conversion topology yielding better efficiency and performance when compared with a single-channel implementation at a similar power level.

To manage the operation of the multi-channel converter, the ST reference design uses the PM6780 dual digital multiphase controller designed specifically to power next-generation, high-performance microprocessors. Two STPRDC02A high-voltage full-bridge drivers control the switching of the bridge FETs that deliver regulated power to the load via the ITG output storage inductors and capacitor.   

Using the optimized ITG dual inductors, the supply delivers up to 1500 W of power with over 98% conversion efficiency.   


Stacked buck converter topology.

Stacked buck converter topology. Image used courtesy of STMicroelectronics


Dual-Channel Inductor for Data Center Environments

ITG’s L101353A series of non-coupling dual inductors is part of the company’s ferrite-based flat wire inductor family with specified inductances ranging from 1.0-10.0 µH.’s_L101353A-3R6MHF_non-coupling_dual_inductor.jpg

ITG’s L101353A-3R6MHF non-coupling dual inductor. Image used courtesy of ITG (email) 


The non-coupling inductors are designed for 48 V direct power conversion applications in demanding data center environments and can handle currents up to 170 A at 25°C. Power losses are minimized with a low DCR of 1.06 mΩ and reduced core losses.

Assembled in a small form factor, the surface-mountable dual inductor has a low height profile of just 24 mm with a footprint of 24.5 mm x 26 mm.