Powering the infrastructure of the cloud: Page 3 of 6

November 30, 2018 // By Nick Flaherty
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
certainly interested in GaN for higher efficiencies,” he said. “In the 12V space we think that silicon still has major advantages over GaN and has room to run but we do see SiC and GaN being great for higher voltage conversions above 60V. I don’t think we are focussed above the 48V or 54V rail.”

Other parts of ADI such as automotive are looking at 800V to 5V topologies though to get the higher switching speeds.

“We are switching faster every year and that allows us to reduce the size of the magnetics and puts different requirements on the power stages,” said Chiacchia.”We find we have a huge advantage with SilentSwitcher with very fast edge rates to switch faster without the inherent switching losses so going forward we expect to use this in our micromodules to use silicon FETS for higher frequencies -

“It has a lot to do with the current levels,” said Mann. “5MHz at 5A is possible today but moving an order of magnitude to 50A is achievable.”

“We do have a new product line coming out that are smaller than the original modules at 6.25mm on a side with 20A so there’s a market for that general purpose micromodule power that you can sprinkle around the board.”


Another key area is communication between modules. With distributed power, balancing the requirements is essential. PMBus is seen as a high end feature on power supplies, but there is a move to use it more in individual components to enable lower cost telemetry, margining, supervision, sequencing and fault logging in large power systems.

“We do hear that customers want lower cost implementation of PMbus,” said Chiacchia, who was one of the original directors of the group that put the specification together.

 “When PMBus came together, our goal was to try to make firmware reusable in complex power systems that needed complex sequencing and complex margining testing and provide

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