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CMOS single chip voltage regulator targets data centres

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty




A startup in California has emerged from stealth mode with a triple output integrated voltage regulator (IVR) in a single CMOS chip measuring 5 x 5mm.

“For the last six years we have been developing the technology to integrate all these components,” said Tim Phillips, CEO and co-founder of EmPower. “We said we were not going to trade off certain things, for example high efficiency at high frequency, using CMOS and standard packaging,”

“The IVR is a high performance switching regulator that integrates all the external components in CMOS,” said Steve Shultis, VP of sales and marketing at EmPower. “It is all CMOS, but its not necessarily fully monolithic. In some ways our technology replaces components, for example we have patents on air core magnetics, and is some cases it is fully monolithic, but we are not disclosing the switch architecture.” The architecture also gives a 91 per cent efficiency across the load curve, he says.

The voltage regulator parts are programmable via I3C and this gives a key advantage says Phillips. “Our dynamic voltage scaling, which we call on demand DVS, means we can move voltages 1000x faster, that gives you a feel for the switching frequency and that also gives a 100x boost in the transient recovery with 3x the accuracy.”

“We made it simple to place the EP70xx on the PCB with no discrete components, select your settings using the provided GUI, and load the device via the I3C/I2C port.  Just like that you have three outputs regulating at high currents with wide bandwidth and high efficiency”, said Trey Roessig, Chief Technology Officer & SVP of Engineering of Empower Semiconductor.  “No input filter design, no output filter design, no feedback resistors, no loop compensation design, no component changes.”

The faster transient recovery allows devices such as NIC cards and optical transceivers in data centres to reduce the voltage guardband, potentially reducing the power losses. The first parts are at the 10A current rating and so are not aimed at CPUs and GPUs in data centre but at the peripheral devices. The monolithic CMOS design allows a bare die to be mounted on the back of a board to save space.

“We have the demo boards now with production ramp at the end of the year and the die solution for mounting on the back of boards is available now,” said Shultis. “The initial focus is data centre and AI but the technology was envisioned to fit across all the embedded space,” he said, “We are working on mobile and low power versions, as well as automotive and industrial. The first family is focussed on data centre.”

There are eight initial products in the family, with four triples, two duals and two singles. Outputs are available from 1A to 10A in a 5x5mm or 4x4mm package with a 0.75mm profile, which is less than a third the height of traditional integrated power modules and inductors.

However EmPower plans a wider range of devices. The tight control of the voltage down to 0.3V is also interesting for sub-threshold low power microcontrollers and the company has done some work on that, says Phillips.

www.empower.com

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