Electronic Components

Helix’s MxC 200 DC-DC power IC increases efficiency at data centers

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Fabless power semiconductor company, Helix Semiconductors, announced that Agility Power Systems (Agility) is using the MxC 200 IC for its innovative, 1kW, high-efficiency 48VDC to 12VDC power converter. Agility designs highly efficient switched capacitor power conversion devices targeted at the data center, solar and electric vehicle markets.

As data storage capacity grows exponentially, as does the need for highly-efficient data center hardware and infrastructure.

Jason Young, president and CEO, Agility Power Systems, said: “Earlier this year, Agility Power Systems used the MuxCapacitor technology to create a 1kW 48V to 12V power converter with 97.6 percent peak efficiency using discrete components. This proof of concept unit was first demonstrated at the Helix Semiconductors booth at APEC in early March.

“Agility is now launching a new smaller, more cost effective and more functional version of that converter by integrating Helix’s MxC200 ASIC into the design in a way that amplifies the benefits of the already industry leading efficiency and power density characteristics of the MxC200.”

How is the MxC 200 DC-DC power IC bringing increased efficiency at data centers?

Bud Courville, VP of Business Development, Helix Semiconductors, said: “Our patented MuxCapacitor technology has a higher peak efficiency and maintains that efficiency across a much greater portion of the load curve when compared to traditional magnetic based power conversion devices used in data centers.
Helix1“This feature creates higher operating efficiency and reduced heat generation across a wider range of applications than traditional power converters. Exact sizing of the power conversion device to the application’s specific load becomes less critical when near peak efficiency is maintained through a wider range.

By how much is the financial benefit by reduced cooling costs due to lower heat generation?

To this, he added: “It depends on the Power Utilization Effectiveness (PUE) of the data center and the cost per watt at each facility. Here is a brief definition and description of the PUE.

“Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is a metric used to determine the energy efficiency of a data center. PUE is determined by dividing the amount of power entering a data center by the power used to run the computer infrastructure within it. PUE is, therefore, expressed as a ratio, with overall efficiency improving as the quotient decreases toward 1.”

PUE was created by members of the Green Grid, an industry group focused on data center energy efficiency. Data center infrastructure efficiency (DCIE) is the reciprocal of PUE and is expressed as a percentage that improves as it approaches 100 percent.
Helix2
He said: “While PUE varies from data center to data center, recent studies indicate that the typical data center has an average PUE of around 1.7. This means that for every 1.7 watts in at the utility meter, only one watt is delivered out to the IT load.

“For every watt saved in operating efficiency at the point of load, 1.7 watts worth of energy costs are saved. In a 1kW power conversion device that would mean that an efficiency improvement of 5 percent would equate to a point of load savings of 50 watts and a total energy savings of 85 watts. The cost savings of this reduction in overall energy usage adds up quickly at data centers consuming large amounts of power 24 hours a day.”

How has the bidirectional nature of Helix MuxCapacitor enabled new design configuration?

Courville said: “MuxCapacitor technology can be configured to operate as either a voltage step down or step up device within the same circuit. This makes it ideal for solar, EV and “Prosumer” renewable energy applications where power can be both drawn from or added to the grid or battery storage.”

Finally, what are the other MxC 200’s game-changing features and benefits in large power applications?

Courville said: “There are many features and benefits of the MxC 200 that improve performance in large power usage applications. The most pronounced benefit by far is the significant cost savings that results from improved efficiency both at peak load conditions and across the broader load curve.

“This cost savings comes both from a reduction in power consumed to operate the load and power consumed to temperature control the environment. For a smaller data center facility with a PUE of 2.0, the cost savings is double that of the savings from the reduction in energy consumed to drive the load.

“The power density of the MxC 200 is another key feature. In addition to reducing heat and cost through higher efficiency, the MxC 200 can also reduce the weight and size required for a power conversion device.

“The MxC 200 also has multiple output voltage settings. For Agility’s 48V input device, this feature would allow for output voltages of 24V or 6V in addition to the primary 12V output. The bidirectional nature of MuxCapacitor technology makes it ideal for certain applications.”

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To be, or not to be fault tolerant! Or fault intolerant?

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IMG_20180723_183441Semiconductors is a tough business, and definitely not for the faint hearted, said Suman Narayan, senior VP, for Semiconductors, IoT and Analytics, Cyient. If you are in DFT, you are in the insurance business. He was moderating a panel discussion on ‘fault tolerance vs. fault intolerance’.

Rubin Parekhji, senior technologist, Texas Instruments, said that a system is fault tolerant if there is no error. An app is fault tolerant if there is no intolerant fault. An affordable system should be fault tolerant. Which faults are important? How are hardware-software fault tolerant? For instance, if not done well, it will lead to bulky devices. There is a need to optimize and differentiate. There is a need to build fault tolerant systems using fault intolerant building blocks.

Jais Abraham, director of engineering, Qualcomm, said that device complexity has increased 6X times since 2010. There is a disproportionate increase in test cost vs. node shrink benefits. Are we good at fault finding? It’s our fault. Be intolerant to faults, but don’t be maniacal. Think of the entire gamut of testing. Think of the system, and not just the chip. Think of the manufacturing quality, and find remedies. Fault tolerance may mean testing enough such that it meets the quality requirements of customers, who are becoming intolerant. We continue to invest in fault tolerance architectures.

Ruchir Dixit, Technical director, Mentor,  felt that making a system robust is the choice. The key is the machine that we make, and whether it is robust. The customers expect a quality robust system. Simpler systems make up a complex system. Successful system deals with malfunctions. There are regenerative components. The ISO-26262 standard drives robustness.

Dr Sandeep Pendharkar, Engineering director, Intel, felt that there is an increased usage of semiconductors in apps such as ADAS and medical. Functional safety (FuSa) requires unprecedented quality levels. Now, DPPM has changed to DPPB.

Achieving near zero DPPB on the nearest node is nearly impossible. Fault tolerance is the way forward. How should the test flows change to comprehend all this? Should we cap the number of recoverable faults before declaring a chip unusable?

Ram Jonnavithula, VP of Engineering, Tessolve, said that a pacemaker should be fault tolerant, with zero defects. Fault tolerance requires redundancy, mechanism to detect and isolate faults. Sometimes, fault tolerance could mean reduced performance, but the system still functions.

Adit D. Singh, Prof. Electrical & Computer Engineering, Auburn University, USA, highlighted the threats to electronics reliability. These are:
* Test escapes – DPPM. Especially, escape from testing components. Also, timing defects.
* New failures occur during operation. They can also be due to aging.
* Poor system design, which are actually, no solution. There can be design errors and improper shields.

Test diversity helps costs. Design diversity helps fault tolerance costs. Design triplicated modules independently. Avoid correlated failures.

So, what’s it going to be? Be fault tolerant! Or, fault intolerant?

MOS memory investors, China to correct DRAM imbalance

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penn1According to an IC Insights report, the 47 percent full-year 2017 jump in the price-per-bit of DRAM was the largest annual increase since 1978, surpassing the previous high of 45 percent registered 30 years ago in 1988! This sounds interesting!

Are the rising DRAM prices aiding startup Chinese competitors? Are major DRAM suppliers somehow stunting global DRAM demand?

Dr. Walden C. Rhines, president and CEO, Mentor Graphics, a Siemens Business, said: “The DRAM business has always gone through cycles of imbalance between supply and demand. Growth of demand in the last 18 months has been stronger than growth of supply.

“Substantial investments in 2017 by the MOS (metal-oxide semiconductor) memory producers, as well as the addition of China to the supply chain, will correct this imbalance late this year or, at the latest, early next year.”

The DRAM price-per-Gb has been on a steep rise. To this, Dr. Rhines said: “It is a commodity, although there are many types of specialty DRAMs emerging. Because DRAMs are viewed by customers as a near-commodity, the price is heavily influenced by the availability of supply. Supply has been very tight during the last 18 months.

Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons, UK, added, “This is supply and demand, pure text-book economics.”

Are the rising DRAM prices opening the door for startup Chinese competitors?

Dr. Rhines noted: “Chinese competitors made their decision to invest in DRAM capacity long before the recent strengthening of demand in the balance of supply and demand. Of course, higher, or stable, pricing may make it easier for new producers to absorb the costs of ramping up new capacity and developing experience with a new technology.”

Malcolm Penn agreed: “Potentially yes, and to anyone else. Coca Cola were contemplating building DRAMs in the 1990s. DSRAM market boom, again, pure text-book economics. Whether or not they succeed is an entirely different matter. If the Chinese do enter the market, can they then survive the inevitable downturn and cycles? That remains to be seen!”

Can the startup Chinese DRAM producers field any competitive product soon? Dr. Rhines noted: “They probably can. But, they will have to develop a production base of “learning” to reduce cost, improve yields and maybe even reliability. This will take some time.”

Penn added: “Technically (i.e., meeting the spec), probably, yes. Reliability, probably no, for the Tier 1 customers (that will take several years to build up the production experience). Cost, definitely not!

“Their small fab scale and late learning curve start means that their die cost will be sizably higher than those of Samsung and SKH, and also Micron. Plus, their yields will be lower. Then, there’s the deep cash pockets issue to fund these ongoing cost disadvantages.”

300mm fabs
In a separate situation, some 300mm fabs closing, for example, ProMOS. Dr. Rhines said: “It’s because of an imbalance of supply and demand for the products they make, thus limiting their profitability. It could also be because they don’t see an adequate investment return from the expensive new capacity investments, and therefore, find it more attractive to phase out some of their existing capacity.”

Malcolm Penn felt that the fabs were too old and technically obsolete.

Finally, are there more IC companies making transition to fab-lite or fabless business model?

Penn noted: “There’s no-one left to change! Everyone’s now fablite or fabless, except for Intel and Samsung (logic) and the memory manufacturers.”

Dr. Rhines said: “Based upon the growth of foundry revenue vs. total semiconductor revenue growth, there must be a continuing transition of capacity away from IDMs toward foundries. In addition, IDMs like Samsung are finding it economic to build the foundry business to increase the volume base of products that utilize their technology and capital investment.”

V-Guard working on digital strategy: Mithun Chittilappilly

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Kochi-based V-Guard Industries Ltd in Kerala state, is India’s leading consumer electrical and electronics major. It has evolved into a renowned consumer brand with market-leading products in select segments.

MithunMithun K. Chittilappilly, Managing Director of V-Guard Industries foresaw the need for market expansion beyond South of India, and consistently increased the footprint in other parts of the country. In 2012, the company established presence in Guwahati, and introduced new products, like solar inverters, switch gears and mixer grinders. His vision is to elevate V-Guard to the next level through long-term growth plans.

Chittilappilly said: “I joined the business in 2006. We have since grown. We had almost 50 percent revenue coming from voltage stabilisers. The revenue for voltage stabilizers has come down from 50 percent to 18 percent. Now, we are present pan India. We are also looking to diversify.

Strong player
“We have entered inverters and batteries, kitchen appliances, and switchgears. We have since become strong players in these segments, especially, water heaters. Today, the new categories are contributing 10-15 percent to the overall revenue. The wires and cables business is doing Rs 60 crore EBIDTA year-on-year. There was also a good boom in the construction industry from 2006-12. For water heaters, we have been doing business worth Rs. 8 crores.”

How did this come about? He added: “We changed the structure to several categories of business. Today, we have 2,000+ people on roll. We are fairly comfortable. We have two to three channels, such as electrical, battery, etc.

“We have DSIR-approved labs in Kochi. In Gurgaon, we have development teams for switchgear. We also have a separate team on industrial designs. We also have a team working on smart products, such as IoT.”

Elaborating, he added: “We are working on products that communicate with consumers. We have products that are connected, controlled and M2M capable. We are bringing capabilities like machine learning as well. We are also in the battery segment. The battery will be an expensive part of an electric car in the future.

“We are also building in auto diagnostics into devices. For instance, the next-gen water heater can communicate to the other water heater as well. In rural areas, farmers need to know when a pump should be switched on/off. We have automated that. We also need to ensure that the products are protected from natural disasters.”

Isn’t there competition from the MNCs? He noted that MNCs don’t bother much about Indian-based products. “Our retail is distributed. We have a great talent pool in India and we develop products. We are in the consumer electrical business and continue to do that well.”

“We have looked at automation, and find that robots prices are declining. We have distribution boards, where intelligent management is built in. We are looking at smart products that can make some difference to consumers. We are thinking of getting into modular switches, and smart home solutions. In kitchen appliances, if you have a mixer grinder, it can control speed.

“We are also working on a digital strategy for the company that includes looking at the predictive maintenance in plants, where AI comes in. AI may help reduce headcounts. We have to wait and see what happens.”

What’s with names and numbers?

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What’s with names and numbers? It all started when a friend casually asked me whether I was destined to win so many awards! Now, I don’t even know why I have won so many awards for my blogs. Actually, it was 17 at last count, 16 international and one national. We did a numerology report. A table is given here for those interested.
Numbers
First, my full name. PRADEEP CHAKRABORTY.
PRADEEP = 7+9+1+4+5+5+7 = 38/2
CHAKRABORTY = 3+8+1+2+9+1+2+6+9+2+7 = 50
So, PRADEEP CHAKRABORTY, added together is 38+50 = 88+8 = 16. And, 1+6=7.

Now, my favourite subject: SEMICONDUCTORS.
SEMICONDUCTORS = 1+5+4+9+3+6+5+4+3+3+2+6+9+1 = 61 – 6+1 = 7.
ELECTRONICS = 5+3+5+3+2+9+6+5+9+3+1 = 51 = 5+1 = 6.
ELECTRONIC = 5+3+5+3+2+9+6+5+9+3 = 50 = 5+0 = 5
COMPONENTS = 3+6+4+7+6+5+5+5+2+1 = 44 = 4+4 = 8. Total” 5+8 = 13/4.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: 2+5+3+5+3+6+4+ 4+3+5+9+3+1+2+9+6+5+1 = 76 = 7+6 = 4.

Three things are very clear! One, semiconductors has ALWAYS been my favorite for a number of reasons. The first reason is very simple – my name and the subject — 7 and 7, match! Two, electronics comes very close, and it also, somehow, runs the world. Three, so does the electronic components, but as the number 4 suggests, it is a subject difficult to grasp. The same applies to telecoms, as well.

Don’t agree with me? Well, as a question: please ask your friend: what does your phone do? He/she will come up with a long list. If you rephrase the question as to: what node is the platform (for a device) based on, the answer will be ‘silence‘! 😉

Okay, this is getting a bit boring! 🙂 Let’s have some fun with sports, eh?

ATHLETICS: 1+2+8+3+5+2+9+3+1 = 34/7. Difficult, but very entertaining. To excel, you need to work very hard.

BADMINTON: 2+1+4+4+9+5+2+6+5 = 38/2. A game favoured by romantics. Elegant to watch. Smash it! 😉

BASKETBALL: 2+1+1+2+5+2+2+1+3+3 = 22/4 – Fast paced. You need to be fast paced too!

BOXING: 2+6+6+9+5+7 = 35/8. This is a game for tough men and women who can take a pounding.

CHESS: 3+8+5+1+1 = 18/9. Played by few. Understood by few.

CRICKET: 3+9+9+3+2+5+2 = 33/6. A game for the masses. Interesting, that there are a handful of test teams in the world. Mostly, former British colonies.

FOOTBALL: 6+6+6+2+2+1+3+3 = 29/2. Very popular, but rough game, for the masses.

JUDO: 1+3+4+6 = 14/5 = Again, for the masses. Few practitioners in India, though

GYMNASTICS: 7+7+4+5+1+1+2+9+3+1 = 40/4. This one’s tough, but makes for great watching.

SWIMMING: 1+5+9+4+4+9+5+7 = 44/8. A tough game. Prefers folks who are very fit!

TAE-KWAN-DO: 2+1+5+2+5+1+5+4+6 = 31/4. Same as above.

TABLE TENNIS: 2+1+2+3+5+2+5+5+5+9+1 = 40/4. Fast paced! Same as above.

TENNIS: 2+5+5+5+9+1 = 27/9. A sport for the masses, featuring gladiators.

VOLLEYBALL: 4+6+3+3+5+7+2+1+9+9 = 49/4. This one’s needs tremendous agility. Well, which game doesn’t?

WEIGHTLIFTING: 5+5+9+7+8+2+3+9+6+2+9+5+7 = 77/5. For supermen and women.

Let’s look at sports. SPORTS: 1+7+6+9+2+1 = 26/8.

Sports itself, is a difficult discipline. So, how can anyone excel in any one among these sports, or well, in life? Simple. By doing hard work! 🙂 It all comes to those individuals who work hard nearly all their life.

Friends, I encourage all of you to try out your full name and full date of birth, (eg. 01-02-2011) separately, and respectively, to see where you stand in life! 🙂

Be aware! Numbers DO NOT make any man or woman. Only HARD WORK does! 🙂 You need to be agile, have the necessary skills, and speed, to excel in any field!

AGILE: 1+7+9+3+5 = 25/7.
SKILLS: 1+2+9+3+3+1 = 19/1.
SPEED: 1+7+5+5+4 = 22/4.
HARD WORK: 8+1+9+4+5+6+9+2 = 43/7.

Finally, in case I’ve made any mistakes, while adding up the numbers, kindly forgive me. I am NOT an astrologer. 🙂

Movie on my life? Naahh!! ;)

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Pradeep
That’s me! 🙂

This is extremely funny! An acquaintance recently called to check whether I would be interested in having a movie made on my life! Before he could finish, I replied, NO!

Some thoughts! First, why make a movie on me, a nobody? Two, I haven’t even achieved anything great like any sportsperson! Three, who will even watch the movie? Four, who will act my role??

The acquaintance said that I had won nine global awards for my blog, and that is a very great achievement! Hmmm, I have won eight global awards and one Indian award, that too from the film industry, of all people! 😉

In fact, I have won 21 awards so far, four at Global Sources, Hong Kong, and 17 for my blogs, including nine for Pradeep’s Point! However, I personally don’t think these would lead to any movie!

Come to think about it! So far, NO ONE in India has recognized my work, which is fine, given the lack of semiconductor- and electronics-related work and writings from India.

The one award that I did receive in India, was from the Indian film industry. I even recall asking my family: is everything all right with the Indian film industry? Why are they giving me this award??

Given the general lack of awareness, and well, the lack of overall support for me, at least, I can only think of three people who have supported me right through — Jo Kuo from Taiwan, and Usha Prasad and Aanchal Ghatak from India, besides my immediate family.

I don’t even want to mention the lack of ANY support from my relatives. Not their fault, as semiconductors is tough for anyone to understand, right?

I would like to thank the entire Asian Sources Media, now, Global Sources, Hong Kong, and all the folks there for helping me understand the intricacies of telecom, electronics, and semiconductors, and of course, the Global Sources’ tutelage. My thanks to the global electronics and semiconductor industries as well, without whom this would not have happened.

There is an interesting remark on my Facebook from a friend. It says: “Semicon needs to be in the mainstream. Such a miniscule component, but, at the heart of technology. Without semiconductors, we wouldn’t have this easy life.”

Very correct! Hope everyone appreciates this hard fact!

So, what will I do with any movie on my life? 🙂 Enjoy, everyone! This is ridiculous! 😉

 

ROHM intros Trench SiC MosFET to make renewable energy affordable

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ROHM India has introduced the Trench SiC MosFET technology to make renewable energy affordable. The next step will be innovations for the local automotive industry.

Power electronics is now enabling renewable energy harvesting. Increasing rural-electrification, adoption of home appliances, industrialization and population is bringing more pressure on the grid, and the power generation capacity.

image025India will be the largest importer of coal, natural gas and oil by 2040. The focus on renewable energy has gone up, leading to increased generation and decreased losses. Smart grid will enhance the efficient distribution of power.

Simlife Electric Pvt Ltd introduced the GAN2000, India’s first hybrid battery backed grid-tie solar power generation system, a combination of grid-tie and off-grid. It is designed, developed and manufactured in India. Power electronics reduces the cost/kW, and enables higher switching frequencies, magnetics and SiC.

Making energy affordable
Energy can be made affordable and achieved by extraction of power from multiple sources that are efficient and cost effective. The power conversion is made more efficient and is always available. It is also less resource intense. ROHM recommends SiC Trench MosFETs for high-power applications.

Rohm’s 3G SiC Trench MOS improves performance. The SiC MosFET is a near ideal switch resulting in low overall losses. Using the SiC reduces the overall system cost. High reliability of SiC improves system reliability.Rohm1

As for the future trends for wide-band gap (WBG) semiconductors, 10X growth is expected for WBG products by 2023! Dominant space:s are the SiC = 600V and GaN = 600V. Major growth areas are EV/HEV, chargers, solar, industrial drives.

Applications such as solar/wind power, industrial equipment, EV/HEV, large-scale data center servers, and home electronics/AC benefit from the use of SiC.

ROHM Semiconductor India Pvt Ltd (RSI) a subsidiary of ROHM Co. Ltd, Kyoto, Japan, announced an array of power solutions like SiC, IGBT, and gate drivers, for improving the power conversion efficiency. These products are intended to meet the harsh condition of India’s rapidly growing power infrastructure.

The improvement in size and efficiency owing to the adoption of the power solutions from RSI, like gate drivers, trench SiC MOSFETs, and IGBTs, play a vital role in enabling small scale and distributed power plants for tapping solar and wind energy. A ~2 percent increase in efficiency along with the reduced cooling requirements can bring in a considerable cost saving for the end customers, besides improving the reliability of the power converters.

This will help bridge the demand supply gap, which is “more from less, for more”, thus reaching more people. The distributed power generation, besides reducing a huge burden on our grid, reduces the transmission and distribution losses.

ROHM’s power solutions include a broad range of power devices, IGBT, SiC, besides Silicon MOSFET and gate drivers designed to achieve improved efficiency in high power applications.

Britto Edward Victor, Design Centre-head, ROHM Semiconductor India, said: “Our focus is on home appliances, industrial power and automotive. We now work on power conditioners. We released the silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFET. It is also used in rural electrification. Rohm Semiconductor India has a design center in Bangalore. The design center has an Application Engineering group to provide technical support to India customers.”