How Vicor is Smoothing the Transition to 48V

February 28, 2018

The increasing power requirements of modern systems, the demand for higher efficiencies and the need to achieve this with limited space means power developers are reconsidering the way they design systems. Using a higher-voltage for power distribution is one approach that is being adopted by many engineers, with systems such as telecommunications, defense and heavy industrial applications moving to 48V rails. By increasing the transmission voltage, the current is reduced and the power lost in the conductors falls with the square of current.

The need to support legacy products, and the desire to have boards that operate across multiple systems makes migrating to 48V challenging. Having different PCB layouts for the different voltages increases complexity and is a drain on valuable engineering resource.

In the telecommunications industry, for example, manufacturers are transitioning to 48V-based architectures to enable them to meet the power needs of their next generation 5G radios. At the same time, they are continuing to build and support 28V systems for 4G, 4.5G and small cell radios that use the same form factor as the new 5G radios. A single base design that can be configured for multiple products and applications would streamline their product development, manufacturing and cost structure.

PI3325 Block Diagram

PI3325 Block Diagram (click to enlarge)

To achieve this level of configurability with a single board that supports both the legacy and new power rails, interchangeable power components are needed to ensure the board meets space constraints. Vicor recently introduced a nominal 24Vin/28Vin ZVS Buck Regulator, the PI3325, that can deliver the higher current required by today’s systems and provide full pin compatibility with the existing Vicor 48Vin family. This allows a single board to be used to support both the legacy 28V and the new 48V systems. In the example above, the customer could develop a single radio PCB that could be used in both the new 5G and the older 4G, 4.5G and small cell systems.

With all the features, the high efficiency and outstanding power density provided by the other members of the PI33xx family, the new PI3325 is an ideal solution for designers who want to transition to 48V without the pain. Find out more about the PI3325 on the Vicor website.

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