Interview (Part 2) with Phil Davies,
Vice President for Global Sales and Marketing

October 10, 2011
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This is the second half of a recent interview with Phil Davies, Vicor’s newly-appointed Vice President for Global Sales and Marketing, in which he shares his views on power design trends within the electronics industry and his vision for the future.

INTERVIEWER: Vicor’s Factorized Power Architecture – or FPA – is becoming an increasingly essential component of power systems design. How does the market view it?

PD: As with any new architecture it takes time to educate customers to the advantages FPA offers in their power system design. Some market segments such as high end computing, specifically servers and the ATE (Automatic Test Equipment) market, see and need the advantages of density and efficiency that our FPA and V·I Chips offer to them. I would say that the concept has really been gaining recognition as more markets and customers are challenged by the need for increasing efficiency while their power requirements at their point of load increases. All happening, by the way, as the footprint for the power system is being continuously squeezed.

INTERVIEWER: I can see why FPA’s time has come. What are your future plans for promoting it?

PD: It’s all about education and awareness…and in making it easy to see why these provide such great solutions. Our new marketing strategy will address these issues. We will be aiming for three or four major markets such as computing, communications and automotive. Within each of these markets, we will be identifying exactly where our activities should be directed. This process will include more customer focus and going after strategic accounts within each identified sector. As we refine our understanding of where we have the best fit and growth opportunities, we will be driving our engineering, marketing and sales to ensure our readiness to fulfil them. A key part of this strategy is to present our three business units and their 3 distinct but complementary approaches to power – Brick, V·I Chip and Picor – as a single integrated range from which customers can gain a competitive advantage with their power system design.

INTERVIEWER: Even as part of an integrated range, the three lines have very different characteristics – could you comment on their relative roles?

PD: So far, we have discussed technical trends within the electronics industry – but what’s happening to the OEMs that develop electronic and electrical hardware is important as well. Years ago large manufacturers engaged in development would have engineering teams that included several power system specialists. These would be responsible for designing the power electronics into the equipment, usually working at component level to maximise flexibility and designing surface mount components onto PCBs. More recently, things have changed dramatically. Power teams across many OEM markets have been decimated, and the specialist power systems designer role within these has all but disappeared. The only exceptions are where power design is seen as a core competency because it critically affects the success of the OEM products it is built into. Everywhere else, the activity is either handled by a more general-purpose power electronics designer or outsourced. Alternatively a higher-level modular solution is bought in.

Against this background, Vicor is offering complete modular power chains extending from the AC wall outlet to the point of load, with component by component flexibility. We are offering the most dense, efficient and flexible power systems design solution on the planet.

Vicor is unique in the power conversion market in that it’s the only company to have its own semiconductor capability. Picor brings significant competitive advantages to our products and go-to-market strategy in that we have our own control silicon and power management team. This capability is heavily leveraged by the V·I Chip engineering and marketing team in meeting their density and efficiency objectives. In turn the Brick business is now leveraging the V·I Chip products into new higher performance VI BRICKs. Our plans for Picor include an aggressive marketing and sales campaign to turn what has been a captive product development strategy into mainstream merchant market strategy. Building out our Picor families of Cool-Power, Cool-ORing, Cool-Switch and new point of load power SIPs will ensure Vicor emerges as a leading player.

The bottom line is that while the three entities have their unique core competencies and approaches to power, we will have one face to the customer and our objective is to provide the optimum solution for the customer.

INTERVIEWER: A large range of products and variants increases the designer’s ability to find exactly the configuration he wants. Surely, though, it must be more difficult to identify the necessary components from such a wide choice?

PD: Vicor is recognized for its technical support and this is an area that we will continue to expand and improve. We appreciate the critical need for support as part of our product offering and work closely with customers and our channel partners to ensure that this support is provided through the entire process, from product selection to production. We’re also investing heavily in our website and you will see new product selection and design tools within the next year or so.

However, it’s important to remember that products from all three lines can be freely mixed to achieve the best available and most comprehensive solutions. For example, Picor power management devices for filtering, as well as its ORing products, can be used with V·I Chip or Brick point of load components. In fact, we are extending this ‘total power solution’ flexibility and concept with the availability of the PFM power factor corrected AC-DC converter module.

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