Power Electronics

Where’s the DC-DC Converter Market and Why Did It Shrink?

The Tenth Edition of Darnell’s “Worldwide DC-DC Converter Modules and ICs Forecasts: Application, Amperage, Wattage, Isolation, Input Voltages, Output Voltages, and Converter IC Trends” is out. It quantifies the changes that are occurring in the market for dc-dc converters. It goes along with “DC-DC Converter Modules and ICs: Economic Factors, Application Drivers, Business Models, Packaging and Technology Developments,” which Jeff Shepard and the group released the other week.

It’s scary stuff. Even without the recession, Darnell’s finding slowing growth and shrinking markets for dc-dc converter modules. Paradoxically, one factor driving change has been the growing number of power rails in a typical piece of equipment. You’d think that would increase the need for distributed dc-dc converters. But Shepard says no.

“System makers always have a 'power budget,' the percentage of the system cost that can go to powering it. Let’s say the power budget is 8%. This doesn’t change just because the number of voltage rails has increased. If the number of rails doubles, the power budget does not. The cost of power has to be cut in half just to stay within budget,” Shepard says.

Since they can’t cut the cost of dc-dc converter modules by 50%, he said they wind up replacing almost all dc-dc modules in high-end equipment with so-called embedded solutions. There’s more. If you’re in the business, it would probably pay you to get the reports, if only to back up what you’ve already been telling your boss. Or the investors.


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