25 Oct 2017

Current trends in power supply technology

Power supply technology is moving forwards to meet the ever growing needs of all areas of the electronics industry.

There have been many developments in this area of the market and Flex Power Division, formerly Ericsson Power is well placed to see what is happening.

Along with many other companies, they are seeing the increasing need towards higher efficiency levels. Higher efficiency brings many advantages. In some areas the reduction in power usage in itself is particularly important - in data centres, for example where power usage is very high, small improvements can bring large savings in energy costs.

It is not always just the reduction in power consumption that is important, but higher power efficiency reflects in much lower levels of heat dissipation. With lower levels of heat dissipation smaller components can be used as they do not need to handle as much heat. Additionally cooling systems can be much reduced. Smaller heatsinks can be used, or for larger systems, air conditioning requirements can be reduced, again saving more energy.

The reduction in heat dissipation also reflects into the size of the power supply units. Flex, for example sees much higher power levels being contained within smaller packages and this can be a major advantage for many end users.

Another major user of power supplies is the automotive industry. Here there is a major move to 48V systems. This saves on the energy losses within the wiring. However it also means that voltage conversion is needed in many instances.

With the level of electronic usage increasing in automobiles this means that power may need to be converted down to supplies of 1V or so. Previously two or more stages may have been used, but direct conversion is becoming more commonplace. A single 94% efficient supply is more efficient than a two stage conversion with each conversion 96% efficient.

With power supplies being used within ever more places, the technology is becoming more important. High reliability is obviously a key factor, but so are improved efficient and higher degrees of voltage conversion.

By Ian Poole

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