Why Engineers Need a Non-Isolated Bus Converter (NBM)

Maurizio Salto VicorBus converters are highly popular, flexible power components that traditionally provide an isolated intermediate bus voltage to power PoL (Point-of-Load) converters or serve as an isolated voltage source. They are widely used in applications such as ATE, server, telecom, and industrial control.

Last week we announced a different type of bus converter – a non-isolated fixed ratio bus converter module (NBM) based on our ChiP package: the first bus converters that do not offer isolation. So why did we create this new category of power components?

There are several advantages in removing the isolation: a NBM will deliver better performance than an isolated Bus Converter module (BCM) in terms of both efficiency and power density. We’ve also been able to offer additional features such as bidirectional start-up and operation.

There are many applications where an NBM will be a better solution than an isolated bus converter. Automotive manufacturers are moving to a 48 V battery to hold sufficient energy to enable mild hybrid operation. The 48 V must be converted to 12 V to power many of the electrical systems on the car, but there is no need for isolation.

Telecommunications is another application where the NBM offers distinct performance advantages. With the legacy -48 V systems now being replaced with +48 V, there is no longer a need for isolation between the batteries and the electronic systems. Yet with isolated bus converters still being used, telecoms and datacoms power system designers are wasting money and decreasing power efficiency by continuing to include unnecessary isolation.

In addition to higher efficiency and power density, power engineers also gain the potential to significantly reduce the size and complexity of the power system in these applications by using the bi-directional capability of the NBM, which can seamlessly interface different voltage levels thanks to its symmetrical, bidirectional characteristics.

To innovate, it’s important to question the status quo. By taking a fresh look at the real needs in this, and many other applications, Vicor has seen an opportunity to help designers optimize their power chains by introducing the NBM, which eliminates the (often) unnecessary isolation function.


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