EPC and Microchip combine DSC and FETs for data centres

Two specialists in their fields, Microchip Technology and EPC (Efficient Power Conversion) have co-operated to develop a 300W 16th brick, DC/DC converter demonstration board for high-density computing and data centres.

Microchip’s digital signal controllers and EPC’s eGaN FETs are claimed to enable best-in-class power density of 730W/in3 for high efficiency, low cost DC/DC conversion.

The EPC9143, 300W DC/DC voltage regulator power module which integrates Microchip’s dsPIC33CK digital signal controller (DSC) with the latest generation EPC2053 eGaN FETs to achieve 96 per cent efficiency in a 48V input to 12V output conversion at 25A. The switching frequency of 500kHz enables the 300W in the very small 1/16th brick format which measures 33 x 22.9mm (1.3 x 0.9 inches). Additional phases can be added to this scalable two-phase design if increased power is required. The DSCs are sufficiently flexible to allow the input voltage to be adjusted from 8.0 to 72V and the output voltage from 3.3 to 25V.

Brick DC/DC converters are used in data centre, telecomms and automotive application to convert, for example, a nominal 48V to a nominal 12V distribution bus. The industry trend is towards higher power density because the converter’s form factor is fixed. A main application is high density 48 to 12V point of load (PoL) converters, where a regulated 12V output voltage is required, for example those used for commodity PCIe cards and storage.

eGaN FETs and ICs provide the fast switching, small size and low cost that can meet the stringent power density requirements of these leading-edge applications with low component count and to reduce the cost of the end product, says EPC.

According to Alex Lidow, EPC’s CEO, “Advanced computing applications are putting higher demands on power converters, and silicon-based power conversion is not keeping pace”. He says this solution increases the efficiency, power density and reduces system cost for 48V power conversion.

Joe Thomsen, vice president of Microchip’s MCU16 business unit, added: “Microchip’s dsPIC DSCs can be programmed to fully exploit the high performance of GaN FETs.

“The combination of EPC’s GaN technology and our dsPIC33CK controllers will offer engineers the ability to significantly increase power density to meet the demanding requirements of advanced computing and telecomms applications.”

The EPC9143 demonstration board is available for immediate delivery from electronics distributor, Digi-Key.

EPC specialises in enhancement-mode gallium nitride (GaN) -based power management devices. The company was the first to introduce enhancement-mode gallium-nitride-on-silicon (eGaN) FETs as power MOSFET replacements in applications such as DC/DC converters, wireless power transfer, envelope tracking, RF transmission, power inverters, remote sensing technology (Lidar), and class-D audio amplifiers with device performance claimed to be greater than the best silicon power MOSFETs. EPC also has a growing portfolio of eGaN-based integrated circuits that provide even greater space, energy, and cost efficiency.


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