Electronic Design

Sixteenth-Brick Takes Shape

Since the introduction of the first brick-style dc-dc converters in 1984, power-supply vendors have made ongoing efforts to scale down the original 4.6- by 2.4-in. footprint of what's now known as the full brick. Later, the introductions of the 2.3- by 2.4-in. half brick and 2.3- by 1.4-in. quarter brick permitted designers to exploit the increases in power and current density while enabling them to generate additional supply voltages in a given space.

The introduction of the 2.3- by 0.9-in. eighth brick at the start of 2002 continued this trend. It also simplified the transition from the quarter brick because the new eighth brick was pin- and footprint-compatible with the quarter brick. In other words, the eighth brick—which was in reality about 40% smaller than the eighth brick--could drop right into a quarter-brick socket.

To make the next logical package transition to a sixteenth brick, power-supply vendors face a problem: You cannot shrink the eighth brick by half and still maintain compatibility with the eighth brick (see the figure). Also, in cutting the size of the eighth brick, power-supply designers must ensure that there's sufficient room for the dc-dc converter's large, planar magnetics.

By reducing the eighth brick's length, Datel plans to preserve the board space required by magnetics and other components. At the same time, this approach will allow the company to preserve the connector pinouts and spacing relative to the edge of the boards. Although the resulting 1.3- by 0.9-in. sixteenth brick won't be a plug-in replacement for the eighth brick, its shared pinouts and width may help designers make the transition to the newer format.

The small dimensions of the sixteenth brick may also serve to bridge the gap between the brick and nonbrick formats of isolated dc-dc converters. Nonbrick formats currently offered by Datel include 2- by 2-, 1.6- by 2-, 1- by 2-, and 1- by 1-in. By mixing the nonbrick and brick formats, designers may find new ways to satisfy power requirements in a limited space.

Datel • www.datel.com

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