Power Electronics
April 2003 Archives of Breaking News

April 2003 Archives of Breaking News


Edited by PETech Staff

Sixteenth Brick Converter Form Factor Garners More Support

The drive toward sixteenth brick form factor began last month when Mansfield, Mass.-based Datel Inc. proposed a footprint and pin spacing to make this standard feasible and workable (see the March 13 issue of PETech Times). Toward that goal, the length was shrunk to half, while the width remained the same as in the eighth brick format. Concurrently, Datel unveiled plans to deliver power conversion solutions in this format for 12V and 48V applications with the ability to handle 33W to 50W power.

Meanwhile, as Datel designers are prepping dc-dc converters in this new form factor, another major player has taken the sixteenth brick effort a step further. Earlier this month, Astec Power, a major merchant supplier of power conversion solutions, introduced a 50W isolated dc-dc converter solution in the sixteenth brick format, labeled ALX series. Astec’s footprint, however, is slightly different from Datel’s. While preserving the same quarter-brick and eighth-brick pin location but with reduced length, Astec’s newest sixteenth brick is 1.65 in. in length, 0.8 in. in width, and has a 0.33 in. profile. Datel’s proposed format offers 1.3-in. in length and 0.9 in. in width.

Interestingly, the sixteenth brick entry into the market comes much earlier than predicted by Pandits. Based on the evolution of bricks, analysts expected sixteenth brick products to come into the market by 2005. However, the pace of development in planar magnetics, coupled with novel topologies and clever circuit techniques, has resulted in this solution sooner than later.

One-third smaller than a typical eighth brick converter, Astec’s ALX models squeeze up to 20A output current from this form factor in surface-mount format. This sixteenth brick series handles 36V to 76V input bus voltage to deliver up to 20A at 1.8V and 1.2V outputs. Astec claims the unit offers efficiency as high as 88% for 1.8V model. Because it employs clever layout and thermal management techniques, the ALX converter offers minimal power derating at elevated temperatures.

While providing basic insulation from input to output, Astec’s sixteenth brick boasts mean-time-between-failures (MTBF) of more than 1million hours. Other salient features of the new brick include overvoltage, overcurrent, and overtemperature protection. In addition, it implements undervoltage lockout with hysteresis, as well as an output trim pin and enable pin with positive or negative logic controls.

The 1.8V output models in the ALX family are sampling now, while the 3.3V, 2.5V, and 1.2V sixteenth bricks will be released later in this quarter. In OEM quantities, the pricing starts at $40.75.

For more information, visit www.astecpower.com or www.datel.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

Supplier Competition in Plug-In Surge Suppressor Market

Over the past few years, significant changes have occurred in market share among the top suppliers of plug-in power line surge suppressors to the North American market. According to recent analysis by Venture Development Corporation (VDC), this market averaged 5% growth over the last two years, despite a difficult 2001. Leading suppliers have recognized this growth and are implementing strategies to increase their market share.

Significant changes in market share have occurred over the past two years. The primary driver of these changes has been the winning of channel accounts. Belkin, for example, has successfully focused on winning retail accounts in the hardware/home center channel over the last few years. Belkin has emerged as the leading plug-in surge suppressor vendor to the North American market.

Also emerging as a top player in the industry is UPS specialist American Power Conversion (APC). APC has leveraged its strong relationships in the distribution channel, developed through its UPS business, to make the company a leading surge suppressor vendor. Both APC and Belkin have developed products with distinctive designs and packaging rather than simply slapping their name on a generic private label product. This— with their relative strength in their respective primary channels— resulted in significant market share gains over the past few years.

Ranking of Leading North American Plug-in Power Line Surge Suppressor Suppliers:

All Plug-in Products

  1. Belkin
  2. American Power Conversion
  3. Tripp Lite (S.L. Waber)
  4. Power Sentry (Newpoint)
  5. Leviton Mfg. (Pacific Electricord)

Line Cord Products

  1. Belkin
  2. American Power Conversion
  3. Power Sentry (Newpoint)

Wall Plug Products

  1. Tripp Lite (S.L. Waber)
  2. Panamax
  3. Woods Industries
Power Control Center Products
  1. Tripp Lite (S.L. Waber)
  2. Kensington Technology
  3. Belkin

The plug-in surge suppressor market shows signs of becoming very much like a commodity business. There are few barriers to entry, and the competition for shelf space is intense. There has been a relatively slow trend toward consolidation in the industry, one that is not expected to increase rapidly in the near future. Such an intense business environment is increasingly forcing vendors to look for, and exploit, means by which they can gain a competitive advantage. Because end users still find it difficult to understand surge suppressor specifications and technical capabilities, enabling them to make better “apples to apples” product comparisons, vendors are vying to gain greater market share through greater “mind awareness.” Most vendors are making larger investments in advertising, marketing, and promotional activities, which aid in capturing the hearts and minds of the customers. Companies such as Belkin, APC and others have done well by fighting the commodization trend through distinctive and consistent product designs, product colors, and package graphics - not to mention high quality products. Factors such as brand name recognition, innovative packaging concepts, and value-added product features are believed to be crucial in enabling vendors to shape the purchasing decisions of end users that are, despite growing awareness, still uneducated on the needs for, and benefits of, surge protection.

Given the increasing levels of intense competition over price, shelf space, and other critical issues, it seems likely that there will be growing consolidation among manufacturers of plug-in surge suppressor products over the next three to five years.

To view the entire press release, including charts, visit www.vdc-corp.com/power/press/03/pr03-32.


Edited by PETech Staff

Dual-Rail Linear Regulators

Two new CMOS dual input low dropout (LDO) voltage regulators from National Semiconductor offer the industry’s lowest dropout. Optimized for low-voltage, high current applications in PCs and set-top boxes, this new family of LDOs enables high efficiency linear conversion while consuming ultralow quiescent current of only 3mA under all conditions.

In contrast, the quiescent current of bipolar alternatives increases to over 100mA as the regulator approaches dropout.

The LP388x family now includes the two new devices, the LP3881 and LP3882, and the recently released LP3883, providing a significant power savings to customers. They use a separate input to power the control circuitry; the power input may be fed independently from the high current supply facilitating conversion from input rails of less than 2.5V. The CMOS dual input architecture allows for an ultralow input voltage and low output voltages down to 1.2V. The dropout voltage for the LP3883/2/1 is typically 210 mV, 110mV, and 75 mV at 3A, 1.5A, and 0.8A, and a maximum of 420 mV, 270 mV, 160 mV overtemperature.

For more information, visit www.national.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

Standalone Li-Ion Battery Charger

Linear Technology Corp.’s new LTC4056 linear Li-ion battery charger controller in a ThinSOT(tm) package provides a microcontroller-free solution and faster charging from a poorly regulated or a sagging input supply, such as a wall adapter or USB port.

The total solution occupies an area less than 75 mm2 and has a height of 1 mm, allowing it to fit in the tight space requirements of portable handheld devices. Where as competing ICs inhibit charging or pull down on an input power supply when the input voltage source sags, the LTC4056 continues charging the battery by limiting the charge current until the input power source recovers. As a result, its uninterrupted battery charging reduces the charging time. In addition, the IC includes all the necessary functions for charging, charge termination, and protection. End products include MP3 players, digital cameras, PDAs, cell phones, headsets, and USB-interfaced battery-powered electronics.

The LTC4056 targets systems that need to charge a 4.2V Li-Ion battery from a 4.5V to 6.5V input source with charge currents ranging from 200mA to 700mA. To reduce the solution cost, it eliminates the need for an input reverse current blocking diode and a sense resistor. Users can easily adjust the charge current and charge termination time with an off-the-shelf resistor and capacitor, respectively. Precision 1-cell Li-Ion battery charging is guaranteed with the LTC4056's preset 4.2V ±0.5% accurate float voltage. The LTC4056 also features automatic recharge, charge conditioning, status output signal, and ac adapter detection. The LTC4056 drives a PNP transistor for providing current to the battery.

For more information, visit www.linear.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

Autotest Delivers ATE Systems to China

Autotest Co. recently delivered the first of several Autotest power supply Automated Test Equipment (ATE) systems planned for China's academic community to the Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.

The fully featured Autotest Universal Testing System (UTS), designed and manufactured by Autotest, will be used to support the university in the development of its space and dynamic power technology programs.

The delivery of this first Autotest ATE system to the Zhejiang University signals the beginning of a developing relationship between Autotest and the prestigious Chinese academic community. The multifaceted systems provided by Autotest include hardware interfaces and software application programming using Autotest's Automated Program Generator (APG) for Windows software.

For more information, visit www.autotest.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

Multilayer Chip Inductor

Top Magnetics Corp.’s new multilayer chip inductor TMCI3225 and TMCI4532 Series are available in inductance ranges from 0.1 uH to 33 uH.

Based on the company’s proprietary multilayer printing manufacturing process, they achieve 40% in height reduction paired with magnetic shielding characteristics for better EMI in wireless applications and extended temperature range capability for harsh industry applications.

In addition, they are designed around standard EIA 1210 and 1812 footprints to facilitate the ease of designing so engineers don’t have to re-layout the PCB.

For details, contact Top Magnetics Corp. at 909-590-8550.


Edited by PETech Staff

Endura™ Power Solutions

The Endura™ ISL6532CR and ISL6532ACR from Intersil Corp. are power regulators for dual-channel DDR and DDR2 memory systems. The ISL6532A is the industry’s only triple-output DDR memory power IC, and both ICs are the industry’s only multi-output DDR regulators that include a 3-A (max) VTT linear Low Drop-Out (LDO) voltage regulator.

Both controllers offer high performance in an ultrasmall (6 mm x 6 mm) Quad Flat No-lead (QFN) package. These Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) compliant controllers join Intersil Endura power solutions that support VR10 and Intel® i865 and i875 chipset computing platforms.

The ISL6532 regulates the DDR/DDR2 memory core voltage (VDDQ) and the DDR memory bus termination voltage (VTT). In addition to the VDDQ and VTT regulation, the ISL6532A offers a third linear FET controller to power chipsets, graphics GPU cores or the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP). Other applications for the third linear regulator in the ISL6532A include power for ASICs, CPU VID-generating circuitry, DSPs, FPGAs, embedded processors, and I/O ports. This additional on-chip LDO saves parts count, costs, and board space in addition to a reduction in design time.

For more information, visit www.intersil.com/design/powermanagement/index.asp.


Edited by PETech Staff

Dynamic Ratings and Luxtron Reduce Cost of Advanced Transformer Control

Dynamic Ratings and Luxtron Corp. have collaborated to combine dynamic transformer control with direct, real-time winding temperature measurement. This collaborative effort integrates Luxtron's m600 OEM Fluoroptic thermometry system into Dynamic Ratings' DRMCC monitoring, control, and communication system.

Luxtron's m600 OEM thermometry system is based on its patented Fluoroptic Technology, which is inherently safe, reliable, and designed to survive the life of the transformer.

Prior to this joint development, the addition of a fiber-optic direct winding temperature measurement required a separate control system to receive and communicate the winding "hotspot" measurements. This integration results in a cost-effective solution for control of medium and large power transformers.

For more information, visit www.dynamicratings.com or www.luxtron.com.

Apr 13 2003

Edited by PETech Staff

Murata Wins Intel’s Preferred Quality Supplier Award

Murata Manufacturing Co. was named a recipient of Intel Corp.'s Preferred Quality Supplier (PQS) award for outstanding performance in providing products and services deemed essential to Intel's success. The company was awarded for its efforts in supplying Intel with ceramic capacitors, ferrite beads, inductors, and other passive components. Murata and 28 additional PQS award winners were honored at a celebration in Burlingame, Calif., on March 26, 2003.

The PQS awards are part of Intel's Supplier Continuous Quality Improvement (SCQI) process that encourages suppliers to strive for excellence and continuous improvement. To qualify for PQS status, suppliers must score 80% on a report card that assesses performance and ability to meet cost, quality, availability, delivery, technology, and responsiveness goals. Suppliers must also manage and deliver on a challenging improvement plan and a quality systems assessment.

For more information, visit www.intel.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

MGE Telecom Inverter Receives NEBS Certification

MGE UPS Systems has received NEBS Level 3 certification on its Topaz S4 inverter after passing a series of performance tests witnessed by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL).

With its scalable architecture and N+1 redundant capabilities, the S4 dc-ac inverter system increases reliability and availability for ac power systems in mission-critical telecom and data applications. The system is scalable from 3.5kVa to 21kVA and was designed specifically to meet the demanding power requirements of today's central offices, wireless base stations, and ultra-critical servers. As one of the first inverter systems to meet the rigorous NEBS standards critical for telecom switches and other zero downtime applications, the S4 equipment is designed to deliver six 9s of reliability.

For more information, visit www.mgeups.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

High-Speed Data Line Protection and Filter Devices

ON Semiconductor has introduced five new MicroIntegration™ circuits designed to protect sensitive components in portable and computing applications from damaging and disruptive electrical transients during the transmission of high-speed data.

Target applications include digital cameras and other portable consumer equipment, set-top boxes, and high-speed data ports in PCs, including digital visual interface (DVI), VGA, Ethernet, and universal serial bus (USB) ports.

The company plans to put seven additional integrated filter and line-protection devices into full production in the second quarter.

Four of the new devices are filters designed specifically for USB, Ethernet, Firewire, and other high -speed data applications. They meet all the requirements of USB, including electromagnetic interference (EMI) filtering and line termination for upstream/downstream ports. Each of these integrated components replaces a current discrete solution that requires 12 components. As such, they’re ideal for board designs where space is at premium.

The additional eight new devices offer the industry's lowest capacitance for electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection. Each has been tested at 15kV contact discharge, which exceeds the IEC61000 8kV ESD standard. With an industry-low capacitance of 1.5 pF typical, the devices ensure that data-line speeds are maintained and guarantee the integrity of the data.

For more information, visit www.onsemi.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

MOSFETs Offer Enhanced ZVS Operation

International Rectifier’s new 600V HEXFET® power MOSFET family with fast body diode characteristics is tailored for soft switching applications, such as the zero voltage switching (ZVS) circuits.

The fast body diode characteristic in the L Series HEXFET MOSFETs eliminates the need for additional Schottky and HV diodes in ZVS circuits, reducing component count and shrinking space. They also enhance system reliability because the internal body diode is active and carries current for a portion of the duty cycle— bridge or power factor correction circuits, where the devices are usually hard-switched. The turn-on losses are virtually eliminated in ZVS power supply designs by turning-on the MOSFETs when its integral body diode is conducting.

The maximum reverse recovery time for the body diodes in the L Series is less than 250 ns, and even shorter for lower-current devices. This lower reverse recovery period ensures that the integral body diode is completely recovered from a conduction state to a blocking state before a high voltage is applied to the device during turn-off operation.

For more information, visit www.irf.com.


By Ashok Bindra, Editor, PETech

SMARTMOS8 Merges Analog, Power and Logic on a Single CMOS Chip

To raise the high voltage capability while shrinking the size of analog and power circuits of its smart power semiconductor devices, Motorola¡¦s Semiconductor Products Sector, based in Tempe, Ariz., has boosted the performance of its SMARTMOS process. Its latest medium voltage process, SMARTMOS8 MV, can merge analog, power, and high-density logic functions—including microprocessor and DSP cores—on a single 0.25 micron CMOS chip. Besides enhancing the voltage capability of power and analog circuits to 90V, this process also cuts the size of smart power chip by almost 50% in comparison to the previous generation SMARTMOS technology (see table, below).

"As designers integrate computing power into more household and industrial devices, the need for SMARTMOS technology continues to grow," said Hay Yam Tsoi, director of Motorola's SMARTMOS Technology Center. According to SMARTMOS technology manager Bob Baird, the SMARTMOS8 MV is being aimed at wide array of products, including wireless devices, automotive electronics, and computer peripherals like ink jet printers. In fact, several smart power chips based on this process are already on the drawing board, primarily aimed at ink jet printers and automotive braking systems and other safety applications, noted Baird. Meanwhile, developers at Motorola are in the process of qualifying the new smart power process technology, hoping to achieve that qualification by the fourth quarter. Consequently, it is expected to be production ready by early next year, stated Baird.

Motorola designers attribute this accomplishment to a unique isolation scheme incorporated to separate sensitive logic blocks from high-voltage analog and power circuits on the same die. Combining a physical deep trench barrier with a bulk-silicon P++ substrate that is effective in reducing parasitics to an acceptable level, the designers were able to boost the voltage capability of smart power process to 90V, while increasing the packing density of the analog circuits. Thus, enabling shrinks of over 50% for medium-voltage analog components compared to the 0.35µ SMARTMOS7 technology, according to Motorola. Other benefits of the improved SMARTMOS8 process include dramatic reduction in injected current, ability to handle wide array of analog and power circuits at multiple voltages, and a new low in on-resistance of power MOSFETs. The substrate injection is four to five orders of magnitude better than previous generation, claims Motorola.

For more information, visit Motorola at e-www.motorola.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

Biotechnology Powers Energy Solutions

PowerZyme Inc. has been granted broad patent coverage for the use of enzymes or other proteins in a fuel cell.

"Nature created the fuel cell over a billion years ago," said PowerZyme's COO, Dr. Rose Ritts. “From microbes to mammals, inside of every cell of every animal is a power plant called the mitochondria, which provides energy to the cell. Embedded in the wall of the mitochondria is a proton-pumping enzyme that converts the mitochondria's fuel into energy. Here at PowerZyme, we have taken that enzyme and created a fuel cell out of it, bypassing all the Platinum catalysts and other paraphernalia required to make small, lightweight fuel cells work. Even further, we have re- engineered the enzyme so that it can accommodate a wide range of fuels, from Methanol to metals.”

Industrial enzymes are a mature well-established sector that uses biotechnology to manufacture enzymes for everything from consumer uses like beauty aids, laundry detergent and making blue jeans look faded; to industrial applications including pharmaceuticals, wood pulp, brewing and even deactivating nerve gas. Though PowerZyme is the first to use enzymes for energy, already one major industrial enzyme producer has committed to its manufacture after some further biochemical characterization is completed. PowerZyme, a venture-backed firm, has been pursuing the creation of highest-energy density micro-fuel cells, based on the use of active enzymes in its Active Transport Membrane (ATM) technology, versus the passive Proton Exchange Membranes (PEM) of traditional fuel cells.

Some of the benefits of using enzymes in micro fuel cells include:

  • Higher energy densities than can be achieved either by batteries or PEM type fuel cells;
  • Longer run times (PowerZyme fuel cell may be able to run as much as 10 times longer than the batteries it replaces);
  • Automatic load-following (the ability of the fuel cell to automatically respond to the power requirements of the load, as opposed to providing a constant power output as in a traditional PEM type fuel cell);
  • No need for precious metal catalysts as in a PEM type fuel cell (such as Platinum or Palladium), the entire fuel cell can be made of recyclable plastics;
  • No need for venting;
  • Orientation independent operation;
  • Instant recharge;
  • Compact configuration; and
  • Ultralight weight.

For more information, visit www.powerzyme.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

Vicor Updates Reset Patent Litigation

Vicor Corp. has announced that the Federal District Court, Boston, has issued orders concerning litigation over infringement of Vicor's Reset Patent (U.S. Patent Re. 36,098). As previously disclosed, Vicor filed lawsuits against a number of parties seeking damages to compensate Vicor for the unauthorized use of its Reset Patent technology.

At a status conference with the parties to each of the cases (Artesyn Technologies, Lambda Electronics, Lucent Technologies and Tyco Electronics, and Power-One), the court has set a schedule for a consolidated trial on validity of the Reset Patent to begin July 28, 2003. The court has set a schedule for a trial on infringement and damages by Lucent Technologies and Tyco Power Systems to occur in October 2003. The court also set a schedule for trials on infringement and damages by Power-One, Artesyn Technologies and Lambda Electronics to occur in November 2003, December 2003 and January 2004, respectively.

As previously noted, in a prior order the court adopted interpretations of certain patent claim terms that are contrary to Vicor's position. Vicor believes that the court's claim construction incorrectly limits the scope of the claims of the Reset Patent, reducing the amount of infringing power supplies subject to damages. In response to a motion by Lucent arguing that the court's claim construction of the term "recycling" had limited its infringing revenues from $400 million to $24 million, the court has reduced an outstanding attachment against Lucent to $2 million.

Vicor plans to vigorously pursue recovery of damages from each of the defendants referenced above and to protect its position as to the full scope of the patent claims. There can be no assurance that Vicor will ultimately prevail in this litigation or, if it prevails, as to the amount of damages that would be awarded.


Edited by PETech Staff

ABB Offers One-Stop Shop for Rectifier Upgrades

A single point of contact, with solutions expertise for complete or partial system retrofits and upgrades, is the cornerstone of ABB's new One-Stop Shop for large industrial rectifier projects.

ABB's commitment to providing customers a single point of contact for a host of such projects reduces customer frustration and streamlines the efficiency of quoting and completing the projects.

Large rectifier installations are common in the primary metals and chemicals industries. Rectifiers are essential for converting utility ac power to the required process power for a variety of industrial processes, such as steel and chemical production. Rectifiers are critical components within the overall process required to produce and refine aluminum, zinc, lead, copper, magnesium, and other materials in the metals industry.

Within the chemicals processing industry, rectifiers power the electrolysis process used to produce the feedstock chemicals and raw materials—chloralkali, chlorate, nylon—for a host of industries.

ABB's One-Stop Shop is multidisciplinary. Personnel are schooled and experienced in a variety of technologies, including power system and power quality considerations, power electronic fundamentals, digital control systems, high-power distribution and transformation, system protection and coordination, high current bus bar systems, liquid cooling system and related instrumentation—and an understanding of the industrial manufacturing and/or refinement processes involved across key industries.

Customer projects often begin with system studies and life-cycle analysis studies, according to ABB. Scope of supply can include system engineering, equipment, training customer personnel, equipment installation, and full-service and parts support.

For more information, visit www.abbrectifier.com.


Edited by PETech Staff

Benchtop Power Supply Offers Precision

The VPower 605 from Valley Products Corp. is a 300W, 60V, 5A benchtop power supply with class-leading features and performance. Standard features include:
  • 10-turn voltage and current potentiometers;
  • constant current or current foldback operation;
  • four-range selectable overvoltage protection;
  • audible alarms;
  • a unique current limit preview mode that allows users to view the preset current limit without altering any settings on the unit.

In addition, with average full load noise and ripple at or below 1.8 mV, and peak full load values at or below 7.5 mV, the VPower 605 compares favorably with more expensive units.

For more information, visit www.vpcvpower.com, or contact Valley Products Corp. at (402) 359-5500.


Edited by PETech Staff

Phihong Plans Central Stocking Location

As part of a new initiative, Phihong plans to create a central stocking location near Frankfurt, Germany. This supply will consist of standard adapters and power supplies primed for rapid deployment to all parts of Europe.

The program will increase the accessibility of products to Phihong’s European customers, who require standard adapters and power supplies for low volume requirements, pre-production runs and sampling stages. Customers may order up to 500 pieces per order. This effort is an integral part of Phihong’s commitment to bring support closer to its European customers.

For information in the U.S., visit [email protected]. For information in Europe, visit [email protected] or www.phihong.com.

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