Power trends: IoT drives the move to software defined power - CUI

June 28, 2016 // By Nick Flaherty
Jeff Schnabel, CUI
The reducing number of power supply designers is driving power management not just into digital but into software to cope with the increased demands from the Internet of Things (IoT). This marks a major shift in the industry both at the device and the infrastructure level, says Jeff Schnabel, vice president of global marketing at Portland, Oregon-based power supply maker CUI.

“What we’ve seen shifting is that power itself is moving from an afterthought or a black box at the end to the forefront of a designs – it’s now a platform decision and technology decision for a company and a lot of that is tied to digital power,” he said “Companies are looking for a system that they can cut and paste into their own products and that is as flexible as possible. They are using FPGA and processors that adapt to changing markets and they need that same flexibility from their power systems.”

The other element is just how complex today’s equipment is becoming, with 40 to 50 power rails, 20 layer boards and a mix of high speed data and sensitive ASICs, he says. “This means engineers are having to consider how they will power all this earlier in the process as the sensitive loads and how to get rid of the heat with all this technology packed into the same space. A lot of challenges are coming from multiple directions.”

Other exclusive Power Trends interviews:

“The other thing we are seeing is that the power specialist engineer is becoming a dying breed – there’s a lot more generalists,” he said. “A lot of this happened in the 2008 meltdown and they are not being hired back so the onus is on the supplier to add that level of expertise – it’s an opportunity for a power company to differentiate themselves and support the customer.”

CUI, currently seeing turnover of $65m a year, has been around since 1989, and in the power industry since 1991. It was historically privately owned, but in 2008 it was bought by a holding company, CUI Global, that includes the Orbital oil and