Power supplies have traditionally been designed as “silver boxes” or “bricks”: a self-contained, autonomous voltage-in, voltage-out device, with minimal-impact mechanical and electrical integration with the host system. However, evolution of system requirements – higher power, higher density, higher input voltages, higher load currents and last but not least, higher efficiency – clearly requires alternative, integrated approaches.
With each generation of processor, memory, DSP and ASIC chip, lower voltages at higher currents challenge the infrastructure to supply contemporary “loads” with the requisite electrons. Electricity from an AC outlet, or a wall plug, typically goes through many stages of power conversion and energy storage on its way to the low voltages required by advanced information processors.
The challenge is to convert electric power from various sources, storing energy and delivering it to the load with minimum heat and cost and with maximum density and speed.
Centralized power, distributed power and the intermediate bus architecture have been able to power electronic products within specific markets but are not generally applicable when trying to satisfy future power system needs. Thus the stage is set for further assessment in addressing new challenges in power distribution. Perhaps factorizing the functionality of a power chain may bring significant advantages.
To hear Tom Curatolo, our director of applications engineering, discuss the challenges faced by today’s power system designers and the advantages of the various power architectures, listen to the rebroadcast of our web seminar, “The Three Approaches to Power”.