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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


APEC 2016 – Powering the Electronics Industry Aimee Kalnoskas

The invention of the humble thyristor 60 years ago ushered in a new field of electrical engineering area called power electronics. At a little over half that age, the 31st Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) continues to give prominence to what can only be described as a new industrial revolution. The demand for increased energy conservation, utility energy storage, renewable energy systems, electric and hybrid vehicles power, in addition to high-efficiency energy systems across the board – it’s enough to keep a designer awake at night.

It’s no wonder, then, that APEC is the go-to event for anyone involved in power electronics. The record-breaking crowds – over 5000 attendees – in the exhibition hall and conferences were a strong indication of the importance of this conference as a key career development channel for the power engineer. And the number of new product introductions focused on keeping heat out, and power consumption and cost down, further reinforces the significance of this “revolution”.

Let’s take a look at just a few of those new products…

Power analog converters in the driver’s seat

“It’s steering the controls instead of running them,” says Microchip’s senior product marketing engineer Flonn Sheerin of the newly announced MCP19116 and MCP19117 power analog controllers. “The devices are at the wheel because they allow designers to carefully control LED light output levels by adjusting PWM on the fly.”

 

 

Microchip’s new MCP19116 and MCP19117 power analog controllers

 

That’s an interesting analogy, as it is the automotive industry that is currently focused on color and light quality for reliable long-life applications. But that demand is about to hit the home market, too, as home owners become more sensitive to light and color changes in their LED home lighting.

From watts to megawatts

“We are in it now,” said Guy Moxey, Wolfspeed’s senior director power products speaking to their announcement of the industry’s first 900 V SiC MOSFET portfolio. “We took a gamble with silicon carbide for the 650 – 900 V market but have now enabled 900 V products and the problem they solve.”

 

Wolfspeed, a Cree company, now offers the industry’s first 900 VSiC MOSFET.


Power converters made with silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFETs result in higher power density due to their higher blocking voltage, lower on-state resistance and higher thermal conductivity when compared to traditional silicon counterparts.

Wolfspeed, the new name for Cree Inc.’s Power and RF division, also demonstrated an evaluation board that enables power electronics design engineers to quickly implement the 900V SiC MOSFETs. Wolfspeed is also offering an evaluation unit that utilizes high-performance SiC power modules for three-phase inverter applications.

 

Where’s my InnoSwitch?

That’s the question Power Integrations customers in voltage-stressed applications such as appliances, utility meters, medical electronics, and industrial equipment were asking. And the new 900 V InnoSwitch-EP is the company’s answer. With 100 million InnoSwitch devices in the market to-date, the move to more “can’t fail” markets seems like a natural path in the InnoSwitch roadmap.

The device works continuously with an input voltage of up to 450 VAC. An optional layer of protection - line UV/OV – prevents the IC from switching and protects the circuit up to 650 VAC. This is key for power supply designs that suit all worldwide conditions. BOM count is reduced to a minimum by eliminating optocouplers which degrade with time.

 

Power Integrations’ latest Innoswitch flyback switcher IC with integrated MOSFET

 

Reducing copious PMBus commands

For customers who want PMBus capabilities in their analog power supply design without all the high-end features that PMBus brings, Intersil Corp. now offers the ISL68200 and ISL68201 digital hybrid DC-DC controllers.  The devices provide POL conversions for FPGAs, DSPs, ASICs, processors and general-purpose system rails in data center routers, servers and storage, as well as wireless infrastructure equipment.

“It’s high-performance simplified with PMBus,” says Intersil’s lead product marketing engineer Brandon Howell. “What customers really want is telemetry, change in optical, and basic fault reporting. They need a familiar analog design flow – plus PBMbus. With these devices, we took the number of PMBus commands from 100 to 25.”

Intersil’s single-phase, digital hybrid DC/DC controllers

 

The devices work with Intersil's PowerNavigator tool to simplify power supply set up and configuration, including all device parameters and telemetry. Full schematic designs are completed in minutes, and the GUI makes it easy to change features and functions without writing a single line of code.

“With Power Navigator, there is no development on the designer’s side,” says Howell, “It’s almost a development platform on its own”.

 

Missed the conference this year but curious about the APEC program? Download the full conference program here (PDF). We’ll see you next year!



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