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Moore's Law drives power system design innovation

11 Nov 2015  | Mark Adams

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A key advantage of digital implementation is that it allows flexible control architectures, e.g. having multiple non-linear loops operating in parallel. Digital POL modules deliver an improved response capability with enhanced overall performance that ultimately provides a superior power delivery solution. CUI's latest POL converters take advantage of the functionality built into digital PWM controllers such as Intersil's ZL8800 family to provide stable power with the ability to react quickly to sudden changes in load conditions.

In the latest generations of chips, load steps of 50A, 60A or even 80A are not uncommon. Power delivery architectures based upon digital POL modules make it possible to deliver power to the atomic chips within the specified tolerances.

Falling geometries, growing board real-estate?

Packing more processing power onto a board potentially delivers significant space savings at the system level—particularly in cloud computing and data communications applications—but not if this space is then lost to larger power supplies needed to cope with the increased load currents. Instead, with the drive towards 100A and beyond, power engineers will need to be innovative and employ new thinking on multiple fronts.

CUI's most recent release to address this space, the NDM3Z-90 series, delivers 90A at as low as 0.6Vout. To support even higher current applications, users can parallel up to four units together to achieve 360A. And thanks to the advanced compensation schemes discussed above, the use of external decoupling capacitors can be greatly reduced, allowing designers to take greater advantage of the space savings offered by the lower chip geometries.

Pushing the envelope

So IBM's announcement of its 7nm test chip has shown that Moore's Law is not done yet. The challenge now for power designers in meeting the complexities of greater functionality in a smaller space that these chips bring, is in coming up with novel ways to offset the requirements of their low core voltage, coupled with the high currents needed to drive them, and voltage tolerances that are tighter than ever before. As ever, the power industry will innovate.


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