Electronic Design
What Trends Emerged at APEC 2016?

What Trends Emerged at APEC 2016?

A wide range of power semiconductor devices and power solutions debuted at the Applied Power Electronics Conference. Here’s a closer look at some of the latest options for power electronics designers.

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The Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) gives you a networking opportunity to meet or reconnect with very smart people. It’s also the place to become familiar with the latest products in the power electronics industry. This year, it was interesting to see how gallium-nitride semiconductor technology has started to outperform silicon technology. GaN devices are steadily emerging across several markets, such as automotive (e.g., LIDAR sensors and wireless chargers).

MOSFETs and IGBTs

MOSFETs and IGBTs had a big presence at APEC again this year. They are commonly found in applications such as motor drives, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), and solar inverters. Some innovations particularly made an impression:

Fig. 1
1. The 900-V InnoSwitch-EP works continuously with an input voltage of up to 450 V ac. (Courtesy of Power Integrations)

Power Integrations announced its new power device for high-voltage applications, the 900-V InnoSwitch-EP IC (Fig. 1). This device meets all international energy-efficiency standards, targeting power supplies operating from high-voltage dc and three-phase power sources. It can be used in industrial, motor-drive, metering, and renewable energy applications.  

The InnoSwitch-EP IC features an uprated, integrated 900-V power MOSFET that provides an operating margin for 450-V ac industrial systems, increasing reliability and operational life. The device works continuously with an input voltage of up to 450 V ac. An optional layer of undervoltage/overvoltage protection prevents the IC from switching and protects the circuit up to 650 V ac. The device boasts typical efficiency of 85%, which eliminates the need for heatsinks.

Fig. 2
2. The 600-V E Series SiHH26N60E can be used in wide range of applications, such as server and telecom power supplies, switch-mode power supplies, PFC power supplies, motor drives, PV inverters, etc. (Courtesy of Vishay)

Vishay unveiled the 600-V E Series SiHH26N60E in a compact PowerPAK 8x8 package (Fig. 2). It’s 57% smaller than the TO-263 (D2PAK) at one-fifth the height. The device features a Kelvin source connection to increase efficiency by improving the gate-drive signal. Low on-resistance down to 0.135 Ω at 10 V minimizes conduction and switching losses.

Fairchild presented its newest generation of 100-V N-channel power MOSFETs, the FDMS86181 100-V Shielded Gate Power Trench (Fig. 3). It reduces voltage ringing due to its 40% reduction in RDS(ON), which lowers conduction losses. Meanwhile, its minimized gate charge (Qg) reduces switching losses.

Fig. 3
3. This N-channel power MOSFET is produced using Fairchild Semiconductor’s advanced PowerTrench process that incorporates Shielded Gate technology. (Courtesy of Fairchild)

Renesas presented its 8th-generation G8H Series (Fig. 4) in the company’s insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) lineup (RBN50H65T1GPQ-A0). These transistors promise to minimize conversion losses in power conditioners for solar-power generation systems and reduce inverter applications in UPS systems by adopting an exclusive trench-gate configuration. The configuration involves the formation of deep, narrow grooves (trenches) in the chip surface, followed by the formation of MOSFET gates on the sides of the trenches. This permits a higher cell density and contributes to lower on-resistance.  

The 8th-generation IGBTs generate substantially less gate noise during switching due to small displacement current, enabling system manufacturers to eliminate gate resistors to reduce noise. The reduced component count thus leads to a more compact design.

GaN

The presence of gallium nitride was noticeable at APEC, particularly with regard to applications exploiting the advantages of GaN semiconductors.

Fig. 4
4. Six new 650- V and 1250-V IGBTs for UPS or industrial inverters represent the first group of 8th-generation IGBTs from Renesas. Also in the works are 1800-V devices for wind-power generation or solar inverters, and 650-V (supporting over 50 kHz) products for air conditioning or induction heating.

Efficient Power Conversion displayed a strong range of GaN applications from its customers. All of these applications leverage EPC’s GaN products, which range from wireless power systems to dc-dc converters:

Envelope tracking: A 4-phase buck converter using eGaN FETs enabled fast switching frequencies. The demo delivered 60 W and 20-MHz bandwidth that was LTE-compatible. On the oscilloscope, it was possible to see how the envelope was successfully tracking the power demand.

DC-DC converters: There was a 48-to-12-V dc-dc regulator converter on a brick format. Using eGaN FETs, it can reach 700 W. Also on display was a 48-to-1-V dc-dc—it used an 80-V, monolithic half-bridge IC, enabling use of lower-voltage devices.

LiDAR: Thanks to eGaN FETs, a 3D real-time LiDAR imaging camera was able to switch faster-generating smaller and accurate pulses.

Navitas Semiconductor announced GaN power ICs that use its proprietary AllGaN monolithically integrated 650-V platform (Fig. 5). According to the company, combining GaN power FETs with GaN logic and drive circuits enable higher switching frequency than existing silicon circuits. It comes in a 5- × 6-mm QFN package with a Kelvin source connection for gate-drive return.

Fig. 5
5. The AllGaN monolithically integrated 650-V platform features 20X lower drive loss than silicon. (Courtesy of Navitas)

Housed in a TO-247 package that reduces system volume up to 50% without sacrificing efficiency, Transphorm's 650-V TPH3207WS GaN field-effect transistor (FET) features an on-resistance of 41 mΩ (Fig. 6). By implementing continuous-conduction-mode (CCM) bridgeless totem-pole power-factor-correction (PFC) designs, the company claims designers can reduce overall power-supply losses by as much as 40% while achieving up to 99% efficiency.

Fig. 6
6. The TPH3207 GaN FET improves system reliability, performance, and power density in an easy-to-handle cascode configuration. (Courtesy of Transphorm)

GaN Systems showcased its customers’ systems that are enabled by GaN transistors. They also displayed the Google’s Little Box Challenge winning device (designed by CE+T Power using GaN Systems' GS66508P transistor). CE+T Power won by not only exceeding the required goal of 50 W/in.3 by almost 3X, but also passing the rigorous system testing performed by NREL.

SiC

Wolfspeed demonstrated a board that enables power electronics designers to quickly evaluate the performance of 900-V C3M MOSFET technology in a surface-mount 7L-D2PAK package. The company also displayed a three-phase power evaluation unit that reduces the development time required to implement SiC power modules in a three-phase inverter (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7
7. Implementing a modular, configurable circuit design using standard components, Wolfspeed’s evaluation unit can rapidly optimize three-phase SiC power module designs for performance, efficiency, thermal management, and circuit protection. (Courtesy of Wolfspeed)

A 1200-V silicon-carbide (SiC) diode, the FFSH40120ADN, is the first arrival in Fairchild's series of SiC solutions. The FFSH40120ADN diode has stable temperature characteristics that enable high-temperature operation without increasing switching losses. Its minimized reverse-recovery charge (QRR) reduces switching losses and enables high-speed switching.

Monolith Semiconductor demonstrated its fast-switching SiC MOSFET by operating a 5-kW buck converter with 675-V nominal input and 350-V nominal output at high frequencies (~200 kHz). The converter’s high efficiency (>98%) can’t be achieved with silicon IGBTs, according to Monolith.

Fig. 8
8. The LM5140-Q1 with a VIN range of 3.8 to 65 V operates through start-stop, cold-crank, and load-dump conditions. (Courtesy of Texas Instruments)
Power Solutions

Texas Instruments introduced a 2.2-MHz, dual-channel synchronous buck converter with a unique set of features.  The LM5140-Q1 (Fig. 8) supports up to 10-A dual-channel loads for high-end infotainment systems. Its adjustable gate-drive slew-rate control reduces EMI emissions and saves space in automotive supply systems. The device comes in wettable flank packaging that helps speed manufacturing. The LM5140-Q1’s 8-pin, very thin quad flat no-lead (VQFN) housing measures 6 × 6 × 0.9 mm. The converter is designed to significantly reduce high-frequency noise in high-voltage dc-dc step-down applications such as automotive-infotainment and high-end cluster power-supply systems.

Microchip Technology announced a new digitally powered analog controller. The MCP19117 is a mid-voltage (4.5 to 42 V) analog-based PWM controller designed for LED lighting applications (Fig. 9). With a fully integrated 8-bit PIC MCU core, the MCP19117 can deliver cost savings while still providing high reliability, efficiency, and light quality. The digital interface also allows for communication and configuration, allowing a subsystem to report status or be remotely controlled.

Fig. 9
9. Microchip’s MCP19117 is functionally equivalent to the MCP19116; however, the MCP19117 offers more GPIO and a debugging interface. (Courtesy of Microchip)

Infineon's Integrated Power Stages family (Fig.10), unveiled at APEC, comes in 50-A through 70-A current ratings (IR35412 and TDA21470). With power-efficiency ratings reaching 96%, the power-stage devices can be combined with the company’s latest digital PWM power-management controllers to provide a full multiphase voltage-regulation (VR) system solution for server, storage, client, and communications systems.

Fig. 10
10. This integrated power stage from Infineon reduces power loss and simplifies design of VR solutions for multicore processors, ASICs, and FPGAs, where efficient power management is critical. (Courtesy of Infineon)

CUI and VPS demonstrated their software-defined power that intelligently controls power performance across data centers, maximizing capacity utilization. It gives visibility to data centers and makes it possible to allocate utility budget cap per rack.

Two new PMBus-compatible, single-phase, digital hybrid dc-dc controllers were unveiled by Intersil (Fig. 11)—the ISL68200 with integrated MOSFET drivers and ISL68201 with PWM output. The controllers help simplify power-supply designs for data-center routers, servers, and storage, as well as wireless infrastructure equipment. Intersil also demonstrated its PowerNavigator tool for power-supply setup and configuration, including all device parameters and telemetry.

Fig. 11
11. Intersil’s ISL6820x digital hybrid dc-dc controllers provide point-of-load conversions for FPGAs, DSPs, ASICs, processors, and general-purpose system rails.

Also on display was Monolithic Power Systems' new MPQ2314, a high-frequency, synchronous-rectified, step-down switch-mode converter with built-in internal power MOSFETs. The MPQ2314 maintains synchronous-mode operation for higher efficiency over output-current load range (Fig. 12).

Fig. 12
12. Full protection features of Monolithic Power Systems’ MPQ2314 include OCP and thermal shutdown. (Courtesy of Monolithic Power Systems)

As we can see from this product rundown, MOSFETS and IGBTs still have a strong presence while GaN technology has crept into more products within multiple markets. SiC research and development continues to mature, and its integration into more products in the future is all but certain. The solutions on display at the show will no doubt benefit power electronic designers in their quest to build the highest-power, highest-efficiency systems.

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