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Vicor aims power converters at Indian telecoms, industrial markets

Posted: 12 Apr 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:point-of-load  DC-DC converter  VIA PFM  HVDC 

Behind Vicor's VIA packages is its Converter housed in Package (ChiP) technology. ChiP uses integrated magnetic structures penetrating through a high density interconnect substrate with a two-sided layout that doubles power density.

"There are about a hundred patents around these products," said Gales. "It's the high density of the chip that when packaged with the ancillary electronics that gives you a very high power density solution."

The company claims that ChiP technology has already demonstrated power densities up to 3kW/in3 at up to 98% efficiency.

Editor's Note: Vicor has an interesting white paper over at EE Times Asia that describes how the VIA PFM, which performs the front-end AC-DC conversion, allows the application of the aforementioned methodology from AC to the PoL. You may need to register, but the download is free.
After that, head over to this paper on the same site. It teaches you, with an example, how you can use a certain power architecture to eliminate bulk capacitance.

Vicor has been targeting PoL converters at data centres, cellular base stations and industrial applications in Asia. The company claims those products have been a popular choice to provide voltage step-down regulation, close to the load, enabling the higher currents required for low-voltage components.

"The interesting thing about Vicor today is that we actually have a solution that goes right to the power source and to the load," explained Gales. "In the past we've been known as the inventor of the brick AC-to-DC converter, which is an important building block, but most people need more than that to build a system. Maybe they have a front end, for instance.

"We can act as a one-stop shop for people looking for a complete power chain from the AC right down to the point of load, right down to driving the processor."

And that brought the conversation to high-voltage DC (HVDC) distribution, which makes a lot of sense for data centres. At high voltages, you can transmit power with a smaller current and reduce energy loss. But you already knew that. There are other benefits you can learn from Peter Clarke's article about Google engineers investigating strategies for increasing efficiency in data centres and servers.

"I think it's early days for high-voltage DC but in critical applications it is probably the only way to go," said Gales. "If you are drawing tens of kilowatts of power, it absolutely makes sense to eliminate the AC UPS systems and replace them with the DC UPS systems. We have building blocks for that. I'd say we are somewhat ahead of the market with our products and are waiting for the market to catch up and understand the benefits of the high-voltage DC. It's something that is very naturally aligned to the data centre operations, where even half a percentage increase in efficiency can save them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in electricity costs.

"We believe that DC distribution is going to come but the reality is that for the power, industrial and the telecommunication markets it is still a few years away."

- Vivek Nanda
  Executive Editor

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