New Opportunities for Power Design Optimization using Application Specific Power Modules

March 5, 2012
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Application Specific Power ModulesFor the past few decades, the modular “brick” power supply concept has been widely accepted and used for designing power systems for a broad range of applications. With advanced, performance-critical applications in computing, telecom, and other markets, there is a great need for new customized high performance solutions that fully optimize power system design.

One solution is based a new power architecture, Factorized Power (FPA), which optimizes processing real estate while minimizing the area used for power delivery in next generation systems.  Redefining the boundaries of each conversion stage and enabling higher densities and efficiencies, the FPA building blocks (Vicor V•I Chip high performance modules) give even greater flexibility to designers to configure unique application-specific solutions.  This then improve overall end product functionality and performance.  For more information see our white paper: Factorized Power Architecture and V•I Chips.

Due to their compact size and power density, V•I Chip regulators, current multipliers and bus converters can be mounted directly on the system board. This is a particularly attractive solution for processor and ASIC-based system boards, which require high currents in the range of 100s of Amps at the point of load. While typical applications include supercomputer and server blades, the range of applications is practically unlimited.

Processor motherboards are complex and expensive. They require detailed design, many PCB layers, high-density of traces and specialized processor or ASIC sockets. An optimized power solution using V•I Chip modules might feature a large number of V•I Chip modules mounted on the main processor board, along with a number of other power and control components required for the application. In many cases, this is the best approach for system design. However, in some cases the increased overall system complexity may not be desirable.

Vicor now provides system designers with an optional solution, which combines the enabling V•I Chip and Picor semiconductor technology and the convenience and simplicity of a drop-in brick, in the form of an Application Specific Power Module (ASPM).

The ASPM concept can be described as “lift-and-drop”. The complete power configuration, including V•I Chip modules, Picor semiconductor components and any other associated parts, are figuratively “lifted” from the motherboard, placed on a customized module and then “dropped” back on the motherboard as a single “brick”. In the process, ASPMs are designed to fit seamlessly, electrically and mechanically, into customers’ system.  

Northwest Power Inc  (NPI), a Vicor Custom Design Center, specializes in working hand-in-hand with customers during their system development to design the required ASPMs. NPI works closely with Vicor application engineering to optimize the design. Since ASPMs are typically manufactured in Vicor’s factory, NPI cooperates with Vicor manufacturing engineers to ensure compatibility with Vicor’s processes. The end result is a customized “drop-in” module optimized for the application and manufactured by Vicor.

To find out more, go to: Application Specific Power Modules

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