Power Perspective

Sept. 1, 2005
World firsts in technololgy, financial results, product launches, and company acquisitions. Paul Whytock reports on the latest from the international power electronics arena.

Lambda, the UK-based global power-supply specialist was acquired from Invensys by TDK Corporation of Japan in a deal said to be worth around $235 million. The agreement includes Lambda's entire North American and European operations, as well as Invensys' current 58.2% shareholding in Densei Lambda KK.

The deal is expected to create the second-largest power-supply manufacturer in the world, with the largest market share in the industrial power sector by some considerable distance, say the companies

Adam Rawicz, managing director of Lambda Europe, says "This offer from TDK demonstrates the corporation's faith in the future of Lambda's power-supply business. Invensys has for some time been open about its intention to sell Lambda. We welcome the end of this uncertainty and look forward to receiving a strong parent with significant investment resources focused on the high-technology electronics business."

CHIP ON THE NEW BLOCK International Rectifier just launched its iPOWIRiP2003A—a fully optimised power building-block solution for high-current, multiphase synchronous buck converters with a 3V to 13.2V input voltage range. It is designed for low-voltage power rails in servers, desktops, and data-communication systems.

As a new member of the iPOWIR family, the iP2003A integrates silicon and passive components into a single, compact land-grid-array (LGA) package. The integrated silicon includes a synchronous gate driver, high-side and low-side power MOSFETs, and a synchronous Schottky rectifier for reduced deadtime losses.

According to IR, the device is capable of 1MHz operation with an output-current rating of 40A continuous, and there's no de-rating up to a 100°C case temperature.

What's different from standard discrete solutions is the fact that the iP2003A enables 1MHz operation, which improves transient performance, saves board area and enables the use of a smaller output filter.

Together with a standard multiphase PWM controller, a four-phase converter using four iP2003A devices can deliver 160A output current with an impressive 55% saving on board space. Nice.

WORLD-RECORD SAMPLING Moving on into the latest round of world-record-breaking announcements, Maxim Integrated Products believes it has set a new 12bit sampling-speed standard with the introduction of the MAX1215, a 12bit, 250MSPS ADC. The 1215 delivers good performance over input frequencies as high as 300MHz.

The device is suited to designers who need to implement higher-order power-amplifier predistortion, because the 250MSPS update rate allows them to sample wider bandwidths with greater dynamic range than could have been sampled before. The device also consumes 34% less power than the closest competitor, which has a sampling rate of only 210MSPS, says Maxim.

The MAX1215 achieves a spurious-free dynamic range (SFDR) of 74dBc. It has a signal-to-noise ratio of 66dB at 10MHz, which remains flat (within 2dB) for input tones up to 300MHz. It runs on a single 1.8V supply. The analog input is designed for either differential or single-ended operation and can be AC or DC coupled.

WORLD'S LOWEST-POWER ZIGBEE CHIPSET SOLUTION Still on the world-record-breaking track, Texas Instruments and its collaboration with Ember Corporation resulted in the unveiling of what the companies claim is the world's lowest-power-consuming ZigBee networking and microcontroller (MCU) platform.

Ember paired its EM2420 802.15.4/ZigBee-compliant semiconductor platform with TI's MSP430F161x series of ultra-low-power MCU for developers building ZigBee applications. TI's MSP430 platform of MCUs will also support Ember's next-generation EM260(dot)network processor, which debuted recently at the ZigBee Open House in Oslo, Norway.

The new dual-chip network module provides a complete, integrated MSP430 MCU, a radio, and the ZigBee software platform for OEMs wishing to tap into the booming market for ZigBee/802.15.4 wireless sensing and control applications.

To reduce the device's footprint and bill of materials (BOM), the MSP430F161x MCU series integrates all peripherals, including high-performance analog and up to 55kB of flash memory, which reduces the need for EEPROM. The device also features on-chip, high-precision control peripherals such as a 12bit, 200kSPS analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and a 12bit, digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with a settling time of 1µs.

SMALLEST-FOOTPRINT DATA TRANSCEIVERS Not to be outdone on the world-record thing, Intersil introduced seven data transceivers that are biCMOS 3.3V-powered, single transceivers meeting both RS-485 and RS-422 standards for differential data communications. The company says they are the smallest footprint 3.3V data transceivers with full fail-safe, fractional load, and 15kV ESD protection. They join Intersil's expanding family of 5V, full-duplex, half-duplex, slew-rate-limited, high-speed and fractional-load interface products.

The parts, which use balanced data-transmission schemes, are robust solutions for transmitting data over long distances and in noisy environments.

FITTING THE BILL Panasonic Electric Works is confident that its AQ-H series of solid-state relays can simplify BOMs by being able to control both 100VAC and 200VAC loads. Devices from the range, including 1.2A-rated parts, are supplied in 8pin DIP packages that help designers achieve pc-board real-estate space savings. Typical applications for the AQ-H series include domestic appliances such as air conditioners, microwave ovens, and refrigerators.FIXED VOLTAGE OPTIONS—AN INDUSTRY FIRST Fixed low-output voltage options for the LT3021, the power industry's first 500mA VLDO (very low dropout regulator), were announced by Linear Technology.

It features input-voltage capability as low as 1.4V for fixed output voltages down to 1.2V. Fixed 1.5V and 1.8V options are also offered. The LT3021's low-input-voltage capability is important for emerging applications using a 1.5V main rail that require output voltages down to 1.2V to drive low-voltage microprocessor and microcontroller cores. The LT3021 maintains its 160mV dropout voltage for up to 500mA of operating current, making it ideal for applications requiring a low VIN to VOUT differential. Additionally, it offers micropower operation with only 120µA of quiescent current and less than 3µA in shutdown, maximising battery run time in handheld applications.

FINGER ON THE POWER PULSE The new STR-A61xx series of power-management ICs from Allegro MicroSystems Europe are PRC (pulse ratio control) topology devices designed for use in relatively low-output-power, switch-mode power-supply designs with output power up to 20W at universal input or 24W at 230VAC input.

The pulse ratio control operates with fixed off-time and variable on-time. An auto-standby function reduces input power consumption to less than 50 mW at 230VAC input using burst-mode operation stabilised by an auto-biasing function to avoid "hiccup" phenomena.

Current-mode feedback and leading-edge blanking stabilise the entire power-supply operation. Internal protection includes overvoltage using bias-winding voltage sensing (with latch), overcurrent (pulse by pulse), overload (with auto restart), and thermal shutdown (with latch).

Each device has a controller chip based on a proprietary high-voltage BCD process and a power MOSFET that is available in voltage ratings from 500 to 800V; input voltages of 120V, 230V, or universal; and power outputs from 12W to 24W.

POLYSWITCH TACKLES THE ISSUES Raychem Circuit Protection launched the PolySwitch TSM600-400, a RoHS-compliant low-resistance, resettable overcurrent protection device for communications infrastructure applications. It's job is to help equipment comply with recent worldwide telecommunications standards like the Telcordia GR-1089 Issue 3, UL 60950 3rd edition and TIA-968-A (formerly FCC Part 68). It can also be used in systems designed to ITU-T K.20 & K.21 recommendations.SPACE SAVERS TAKE A STEP-UP The XC9119 series from Torex Semiconductor are 1.0MHz, PWM-controlled, step-up DC-DC converters. With a built-in 2.0(omega) switching transistor, a complete XC9119 circuit needs only a small external coil, diode, ceramic capacitors, and resistors, making the series ideal for low profile and small board area solutions. The XC9119 series has an operating voltage range of 2.5V ~ 6.0V, and is able to provide output voltages up to a maximum of 18V. MONEY MONEY MONEY Fairchild Semiconductor has announced financial results for the second quarter ended June 26, 2005. Its second quarter sales were $346.0 million, a 4.6% decrease from the prior quarter and 16.5% lower than the second quarter of 2004.

Fairchild reported a second quarter net loss of $205.3 million or $1.71 per share compared to a net loss of $10.4 million or $0.09 per share in the prior quarter, and net income of $17.0 million or $0.14 per diluted share in the second quarter of 2004. Included in the loss was a $195.3 million non-cash charge related to the reserve of deferred tax assets required under Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS) No. 109, "Accounting for Income Taxes." Also included in the loss were $3.9 million of restructuring expenses in the second quarter related to employee severance and certain asset impairments. Gross margin was 19.9%, 320 basis points lower sequentially and 940 basis points lower than the second quarter of 2004.

POWER SENSITIVE Micrel launched a 2MHz PWM synchronous buck regulator with LOWQ mode and voltage scaling. The new solution is aimed at applications that require a scaled-down voltage supply in standby and sleep mode, including cellular phones, PDAs, digital cameras, GPS systems, and USB peripherals.

The MIC2206 is a PWM synchronous buck regulator featuring a LDO standby-mode quiescent current of only 18µA with dual voltage level for standby and sleep modes. When in LOWQ mode, the output voltage drops to 1V, thereby reducing the current draw by the circuit being powered, reducing power in sleep mode and increasing standby.

HOT-SWAP SIP SUITS ATCA PICMG3.0 REQUIREMENTS Vicor subsidiary Picor has developed the QPI-8, the industry's first system-in-a-package (SiP) device designed to integrate the total hot-swap function with an active EMI filter. As a complete solution, this integrated device cuts product complexity and enables live insertion of plug-in cards and simultaneous EMI noise suppression for DC-DC converter applications. POWER BAR RAISED TO 450W Artesyn Technologies unveiled a series of ultra-high-efficiency Typhoon quarter-brick intermediate bus converters (IBCs) that generate up to 50% more usable power than previous-generation models. The series includes the IBC38AQT unregulated, fixed-ratio DC transformer for computing, and two semi-regulated models with input voltage ranges optimised for telecom (IBC28AQW) and networking (IBC30AQS) applications. All three IBCs employ a new, leading-edge conversion topology to maximise efficiency and power density. The unregulated IBC38AQT, for example, can deliver up to 450W of output power—150W more than its one-quarter brick predecessor—with an efficiency of over 95%, and has a power density in excess of 20W/cm3.

These second-generation quarter-brick IBCs are the result of an intensive on-going development program in very-high power-density converters.

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