300W GaN DC-DC converter targets data centres

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

GaN chip maker EPC has teamed up with Microchip on the design of a 300W DC-DC converter for 48V designs  that measures just 33 x 23mm.

This 16th brick form factor combines the EPC2053 eGaN FET switches with Microchip’s dsPIC33CK digital signal controller. This two phase synchronous buck converter design gives an efficiency of 96 percent converting 48V down to 12V at 25A and a power density of 730 W/in3. The GaN FETs have an RDS(on) resistance of 3.2 mΩ to reduce the converter size and conduction loss. Discrete GaN-specific gate drivers, the uP1966A from µPI semiconductor, are also selected. This eliminates the need for an anti-parallel diode and again reduces the losses. The 16-bit DSC has a maximum CPU speed of 100 MIPS, along with a pulse-width modulation (PWM) module that can be configured in high-resolution mode. This gives a 0.25ns resolution in duty cycle to reduce the dead time of the switching and boost the efficiency.

Additional phases can be added to the design to allow the input voltage to be adjusted from 8 V – 72 V and the output voltage from 3.3 V – 25 V.

The EPC9143 design is aimed at reducing the size of DC-DC converter bricks in data centres and telecoms designs, converting a nominal 48 V to a nominal 12 V distribution bus among other output voltages. The main trend has been towards higher power density given the form factor is fixed. A main application is high density 48V to 12V point-of-load (POL) converters, where a regulated 12V output voltage is required for devices such as commodity PCIe cards and storage.

These have also been targeted by new devices such as the single chip regulator from EmPower that can be embedded on the back of the controllers to distribute the 12V supply: CMOS SINGLE CHIP VOLTAGE REGULATOR TARGETS DATA CENTRES

“Advanced computing applications are putting higher demands on power converters, and silicon-based power conversion is not keeping pace,” said Alex Lidow, CEO of EPC. “We are delighted to work with Microchip, a leader in this space, to provide customers with a flexible solution to increase the efficiency, increase power density, and reduce system cost for 48 V power conversion.”

“Microchip’s dsPIC DSCs can be programmed to fully exploit the high performance of GaN FETs,” said Joe Thomsen, VP of Microchip’s MCU16 business unit. “We are proud to work alongside EPC to provide our customers this GaN-based reference design. 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 telecom applications.”

The EPC9143 demonstration board is priced $378.00 each and is available for immediate delivery from Digi-Key at

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