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Maxim exec highlights rising power need of industrial space

Posted: 19 Jan 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Maxim Integrated  power  data centre  cloud  automotive 

Before he became CTO for Maxim Integrated, where he also serves as VP of advanced R&D, Dr. Anthony J. Stratakos was VP of advanced R&D where he was responsible for technology development, advanced packaging, platform IP creation and new product line incubation. He joined the company in 2013 as part of the acquisition of Volterra Semiconductor where he served as CTO and SVP. He also co-founded Volterra in 1996.

Stratakos holds a BSEE and MSEE from The Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, he has 28 issued patents.

An important topic of discussion was power. According to WSTS, GP Power is growing at about five per cent, but 2.5x the overall analogue market.

Power is an important component to Maxim's focus areas, which include cloud and data centres, mobility, industrial and automotive. "Five years down the line, we see the primary challenges of power management being the need for increased power density, increased efficiency and lower cost. Integration and advancing an aggressive technology roadmap will address these challenges," said Stratakos.

Anthony J. Stratakos

Stratakos: ...the primary challenges of power management being the need for increased power density...

Stratakos also spoke about cloud data centres. According to him, data centres today consume roughly 50GW of power. This is forecast to grow at up to 10 per cent per year. In addition, the CPU and memory consume over half of the power in data centre servers. Point of load (POL) power supplies for these applications demand the highest efficiency. Also, the platform focus is on process, package and topology to drive continuous improvements in POL power supply efficiency. He added that the next natural progression is to integrate all active components onto the power IC at very high currents. High-integration single-chip POL power solutions consisting of multiple phases within a single power IC are a key path to enable the power density and efficiency required in data centre applications. These chips are capable of delivering in excess of 50A and to achieve peak power conversion efficiencies of more than 95 per cent when converting from the 12V bus voltage to the 1V to 2V POL voltage.

Next we looked at the power needs and care-abouts of power ICs in the industrial and automotive sectors.

Industrial and automotive both trend toward higher input voltages. Currents have been progressively increasing over the years from several amps to 10A per IC. The industrial market typically requires single-function power ICs with high power density while the automotive market hinges more on quality and reliability, and therefore benefits from the integration of multiple power functions on a single IC.

Then there is the mobile market whose key needs are efficiency, low standby power and small footprint with high levels of functional integration on a single IC.

The power grid is another growing area, especially for renewable energy generation. Maxim has Solar Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) solutions now working at the sub-string level in solar panels that perform MPPT and DC optimisation on each cell string. This granularity minimises power degradation due to shading, soiling and other sources of mismatch within the panel.

These solutions embed the MPPT function deeper in the photovoltaic system than ever before, so designers are not constrained by the limits of conventional design or even panel-level optimisation. Their unprecedented tolerance for crossbank shading allows the tightest row spacing, enabling designers to deliver improved financials for even the largest PV projects.

Stratakos finished our discussion with the vision of bio and environmental sensors in Maxim's future. We look forward to see what neat new solutions come out of Stratakos' talented team.

- Steve Taranovich

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