One thing most systems at Design West have in common is the need for power. Micros tend to conserve power using a range of approaches from cycling to sleep mode to using lower power circuit design to clock gating. Still, battery or other power sources are required to run the system. WinSystems and Super Micro Computers (Supermicro) were showing off some interesting alternatives to more conventional power solutions.
WinSystems PPM-PS394 (Fig. 1) is designed to sit between one or more power sources and to deliver suitable power to a system. Inputs can include a range of DC sources from 9-32V such as batteries to solar panels. It can deliver up to 10A at 5V and 5A at 3.3V The PPM-PS394 is a PC-104/Plus board. It incorporates a DC/DC power supply and an MPPT (maximum power point tracking) battery charger.
Figure 1. WinSystem's PPM-PS394 has a DC/DC converter that can take a range of DC inputs and provide power to a battery backup system as well as the host.
The PPM-PS394 is ideal for a range of systems. It can be connected to a battery that can be charged to provide power when other sources may be inactive. The board can be used alone but typically it is found in a stack with other PC-104/Plus boards. Designers simply need to make sure the power supply is sufficient for the anticipated power drain.
Supermicro's Backup Battery Power (BBP) brick is designd to replace the standard, hot swap power supply found on many Supermicro rack mount systems. The BBP is an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) that provides power for a system. It differs from a conventional UPS in capacity. The BBP is designed to make clean power down possible when power is lost. The standard power supplies are already managed using IPMI so adding UPS functionality is simply a matter of detecting loss of power.
External UPS systems can often provide quite a bit of run time when the battery is being used. This may be minutes to hours depending upon the capacity of the UPS and the requirements of the system. The BBP is designed to provide one a couple minutes of battery operation allowing a smaller backup supply.
The BBP can be easily incorporated into existing systems. Most support at least two power supplies. The power supply is 99.9% efficient. It may not be a solution for all applications but it will be ideal for others.
The WinSystem and Supermicro solutions are not conventional but address a range of applications where the alternatives are more expensive or more difficult to design.