Powering the infrastructure of the cloud

November 30, 2018 // By Nick Flaherty
Powering the infrastructure of the cloud
Nick Flaherty talks to Chris Mann and Rob Chiacchia at Analog Devices on the power trends for infrastructure for cloud computing, 5G and the Internet of Things and its implications for the next generation PMbus specification and even the Internet from space

Cloud computing has become a signficant driving force for power management technology. The latest generation of high performance processors, FPGA and AI acceleration engines is requiring many more power rails that need both tight control and synchronisation. As data centres upgrade their compute engines the power requirements are becoming increasingly challenging.

This has been a key area for Analog Devices (ADI) following the acquisition of power specialist Linear Technology in July 2016. One of the technologies that came with the deal was a family of micromodules to provide DC-DC conversion at the point of load (PoL) which is becoming essential for the transition to power system management (PSM).

“We are right now on the front edge of realising our fourth generation technology,” said Chris Mann, vice president of the power products group (above left) . “For example our 12V point of load step down converter delivers 100A at 1V output. This is a power density 2.5 times our original parts.”

“Higher current is clearly a target for us as customers are asking for hundreds of amps and at the moment that’s multiple modules – 100A is not the limit,” he said. But it’s not just about the overall power levels that are important but how that can be delivered on the board. 

“Increasing power density is important but where that power density will reside on the board is important,” added Rob Chiacchia, general manager of Power Systems in the Power Products Group and responsible for the micromodule activity (above right).

“Although we are putting components on top to increase the height and reduce the footprint, we are making components thinner so that they fit on the back side of the board to alleviate congestion on the front side that our customers are running into – if customers can put component power on the back side of the board their layout is easier,” he said.


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