Power Electronics
Vicor Corp: Dr. Patrizio Vinciarelli

Vicor Corp: Dr. Patrizio Vinciarelli

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Patrizio Vinciarelli founded Vicor Corp. in 1981 and has served as its president and CEO ever since. A native of Rome, Italy, Vinciarelli came to the United States in 1970 with a doctorate in physics from the University of Rome. During his 10-year career in high-energy physics, he was associated with New York University, The University of Maryland, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, the European Center for Nuclear Research, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton and Princeton University.

In the early 1980s, Vinciarelli invented zero-current and zero-voltage switching technologies that enabled the design of power converters that were much smaller and more efficient than conventional power supplies. Vicor pioneered the first power-component revolution by developing families of high-density “bricks” that could be used as building blocks to create power systems. This innovative approach to power was gradually accepted by power design engineers, and within a decade, became a standard in the power electronics industry.

With each new generation of processor, memory, DSP and ASIC, the trend is toward lower voltages, higher currents and faster speeds. Now and in the future, system designers will be challenged to contend with a proliferation of lower voltages, provide ever-faster transient response, improve overall power-system efficiency, and do it all using less board area.

Though the founding brick business unit remains the financial core of today’s Vicor, to address new technical challenges with appropriate business models, Vicor has created two new entities, V·I Chip and Picor.

Vicor continues to focus on increasing power density, efficiency and other key power-system parameters by
advancing its power-component concept through innovative power-conversion topologies, power semiconductors and power management chips. Vicor introduced Factorized Power Architecture (FPA) and V·I Chips in response to the limitations of bricks to meet the future demands of power systems. V·I Chips offer the power architect entirely new ways to solve power-system challenges.

The name V·I Chips comes from their ability to multiply currents and divide voltages, while essentially preserving the V·I power product (the “·”). Factorized power breaks power conversion into high-performance, flexible and scaleable power building blocks. The Voltage Transformation Module (VTM) offers speed, density and efficiency levels to meet the demands of DSP, FPGA, ASIC, processor cores and microprocessor applications. A “factorized bus” controlled by the Pre-Regulator Module (PRM) supports efficient power distribution and provides 97% efficient regulation. This means that, for isolated conversion including regulation from 48 V down to 1 V, the PRM and VTM system offers 7% higher efficiency and 60% smaller size than competing solutions. For isolation and voltage division, V·I Chip Bus Converter Modules (BCM) can be used to power non-isolated POL converters (niPOLs) or as an independent DC sources and offer as much as a four-times improvement in power density.

The performance of these new power components has attracted the interest of blue chip customers and licensees in major electronic markets. Because of the disruptive nature of V·I Chips, Vicor focused first on applications with a few large OEMs in key end markets. In the IT space, IBM has gone public with some of the benefits of V·I Chips. SONY has entered into a V·I Chip license agreement.

Having completed the initial development of V·I Chips and transitioned into production, the newly created V·I Chip entity is beginning to broaden its market focus. It expects to engage customers across a diverse spectrum of applications and industries. At the same time, Picor is applying its expertise in control and power semiconductor technologies to provide a broad range of advanced and unique power management products.

Advanced power components are the future. Vicor’s power-conversion expertise and power-component methodology address the power-system needs of diverse end markets. New standards for the power electronics industry must include technology platforms that support efficient power processing, power distribution and power management so as to enable superior electronic products.
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