DC/DC converter modules increases computing efficiencies

17th July 2020
Caroline Hayes


A demonstration board combines Microchip’s DSCs and EPC’s eGaN FETs to raise power density and efficiency in DC conversion. The brick DC/DC converter targets data centres, telecomms and automotive applications.

According to the partners, the combination of digital signal controllers (DSCs) and eGaN FETs in the EPC9143 enable best-in-class power density of 730W/in3 for high efficiency, low cost DC/DC conversion. 

The 300W DC/DC voltage regulator is supplied in the 16th brick form factor, measuring just 33 x 22.9mm or 1.3 x 0.9 inches. The power module integrates the dsPIC33CK DSC and EPC2053 eGaN FETs, resulting in 96% efficiency in a 48V input to 12V output conversion at 25A. Switching frequency is 500kHz.

Additional phases can be added to this scalable two-phase design to increase power. Flexibility in design is supplemented by the digital controllers which allow the input voltage to be adjusted from 8.0 to 72V and the output voltage to be adjusted from 3.3 to 25V.

In data centre, telecomms and automotive equipment, brick DC/DC converters are used to convert a nominal 48V to a nominal 12V distribution bus (among other output voltages). There is a trend towards higher power density to meet increasing demand for these services but as the form factor is fixed, designers need to increase power density without size penalties. A typical example is commodity PCIe cards and storage where high density 48V to 12V point of load (PoL) converters require a regulated 12V output voltage.

According to EPC, the eGaN FETs and ICs provide the fast switching, small size and low cost that can meet the stringent power density requirements of these applications to minimise component count and cost.

“Advanced computing applications are putting higher demands on power converters, and silicon-based power conversion is not keeping pace,” said Alex Lidow, CEO of EPC. “We are delighted to work with Microchip . . . to provide customers with a flexible solution to increase the efficiency, increase power density, and reduce system cost for 48V power conversion.”

“Microchip’s dsPIC DSCs can be programmed to fully exploit the high performance of GaN FETs,” added Joe Thomsen, VP of Microchip’s MCU16 business unit. He added, “The combination . . . will offer engineers the ability to significantly increase power density to meet the demanding requirements of advanced computing and telecom applications.”

The EPC9143 demonstration board is available now for immediate delivery from Digi-Key.

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