Communications Applications No Longer Need Isolated Bus Converters

Communications infrastructure equipment has traditionally used lead-acid batteries as a backup supply, which requires the batteries to power a positive referenced 48 V distribution system to avoid corrosion (cathodic protection).

As this -48 V supply is used to power +48 V electronics, isolation between the batteries and the communication electronics is required. So the use of isolated bus converters became standard practice in these applications.

With modern communications systems merging with server technology, and the communication portion moving from electrical to optical systems, today’s equipment can use negative referenced+48 V backup, meaning isolation is no longer necessary. Indeed, while functionally the isolation stage does not matter, it does have an impact on the performance of the power system. Retaining the isolation stage means that power density is reduced and efficiency decreased by this unnecessary functionality.

non-isolated bus converter modules NBMsThe introduction of non-isolated fixed ratio bus converters (NBM), a new class of component developed by Vicor, allows power engineers who develop for communications systems to increase efficiency and improve power density by eliminating the unnecessary isolation in the system. This reduces operating costs, simplifies thermal management and allows additional functionality to be deployed in the additional space. With the size of many communications systems determined by thermal constraints, the reduction in heat wasted is a particularly important factor.

The use of NBMs also simplifies the transition from central to distributed power backup systems. The high level of maintenance meant that it made sense to have all the lead-acid batteries together in a central UPS. Many small and mid-sized central offices will only deploy equipment as it is needed, meaning that the central backup is specified to be able to meet the worst case future power requirements, which are typically far greater than what is actually needed at initial deployment.

New battery technology reduces the maintenance requirements, making it easy to distribute the backup batteries, placing them within the rack that houses the equipment they are designed to power. This allows easy scaling of the backup power capacity, ensuring that it is always at the optimal level.

The NBM is a completely new concept. By eliminating functionality that is no longer required, the NBMs are a better solution than conventional bus converters for many applications, including communications systems.


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