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microBRICKTM: A Simple Solution to Building Efficient High Density DC/DC Converters with a Wide Input Voltage Range

– Roy Shoshani | VP | Power and Linear IC division | Vishay

One of the biggest challenges in system design is powering the next generation of microprocessors, DSPs, FGPAs, and ASICs used in servers, telecom equipment, and IoT systems. Maximizing performance and high power delivery becomes even more difficult as processors get faster, space availability diminishes, and power requirements increase – such as in 5G small cells, radio units, and robots. Consequently, these emerging applications demand high efficiency, high power density DC/DC conversion solutions. System designers need these DC/DC solutions to be simple to work with, even while delivering features such as a wide input voltage range and ultrafast transient response. For maximum performance, the best solution will integrate multiple functions into a single, compact package.

Designers have many options today to choose from, varying not only by supplier but also by the level of integration. At one end of the spectrum are traditional solutions that combine an IC controller, discrete MOSFETs, and numerous passive components. This “discrete” approach provides a high level of flexibility and potential lower bill of materials cost, but on the other hand requires a longer design and validation time. It is a riskier strategy too, given the high level of technical expertise it requires. More recently, solutions combining integrating the IC controller and power MOSFETs into a single package have emerged. This approach provides higher efficiencies while enabling faster switching frequencies and more features and protections in compact packages. On the far end of the integration spectrum are various module solutions in which both active and passive devices are combined into a single package. Until now, however, they have often remained out of reach due to higher prices. This mainly because the large component size and low production volumes tend to increase manufacturing costs.

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