Vicor Corporation has launched its latest generation of 48V Direct-to-PoL (Point-of-Load) power components representing new advances in power conversion engines, control systems and modular power technology.

The new modules allow contemporary low-voltage, high-current CPUs, GPUs, ASICs and DDR memory to be powered off a 48V distribution bus, enabling unprecedented power density, conversion efficiency and low power system distribution loss.

Vicor’s latest 48V modules are being introduced following the Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit 2016 at which Google announced its initiative to promote 48V server and distribution infrastructure as a standard for data centres.

Vicor President and CEO Patrizio Vinciarelli observed that Google pioneered green data centres by developing its 48V server infrastructure and is now enabling a reduction in the global cloud electricity footprint by promoting an open 48V rack standard.

Efficient, dense, cost-effective and reliable power distribution is a critical element in data centres and other distributed electronics applications, such as autonomous driving vehicles and LED lighting. Smaller cables and bus bars, lower distribution losses, and more compact storage capacitors are some of the known benefits of a higher distribution bus voltage, particularly 48V, which requires no special safety precautions, but conventional power conversion approaches have not been able to efficiently, or compactly, transform power from a 48V bus into the low voltages (e.g., 3.3V, 1.8V and 0.8V) and high currents (e.g. 95 Amps) required by contemporary CPUs or GPUs.

Consequently, CPU power conversion has customarily relied on 12V distribution. A 12V bus, however, must carry four times the current carried by a 48V bus, and, because distribution losses are a function of the square of the current, the power lost in a 12V bus can be as much as 16 times the loss in a 48V bus.

Vicor’s 48V Direct-to-PoL product families provide efficiencies from a 48V bus that are better than 12V legacy solutions in a fraction of the space, enabling system designers to implement green distributed system solutions featuring high conversion efficiency, high power density and low distribution loss.

Vicor’s latest generation 48V Direct-to-PoL modules include the Cool-Power PI3751-02 Buck-Boost, Pre-Regulator Module (PRM) and the VTM48Kp020x Current Multiplier Module (VTM). The PRM receives its input from a 48V distributed bus (Vin up to 55V) and drives a controlled ‘factorized’ bus voltage to the VTM; the VTM generates an output voltage that is 1/24th of the voltage at its input while multiplying by 24X the current delivered to the CPU. Current multiplication by as much as 48X at the Point-of-Load delivers higher efficiency, density and bandwidth, distinguishing attributes of Factorized Power. In applications that require telemetry and digital control (e.g., CPU, GPU, ASIC and DDR4 memory applications) a Vicor PI3020 digital control and telemetry device may be used with a VTM/PRM pair. Among the features of the PI3020 are PMBus and SVID control interfaces with full support for server processor power VR13, and backwards compatibility for VR12.5 and VR12.0 designs.

Utilising a MHz ZVS Buck-Boost topology in a 10mm x 14mm LGA package, the PRM delivers up to 240 Watts at 98% efficiency. The VTM’s MHz ZVS/ZCS Sine Amplitude Converter (SAC) delivers up to 95 Amperes of continuous current, and up to 190A of peak current, at 95% peak efficiency in a moulded 13mm x 23mm ChiP package with greater than 400 A/in² current density.

The VTM features very low output impedance, allowing users to remove bulk capacitors from the Point-of-Load. Furthermore, only the high current VTM needs to be close to the CPU; the PRM can be located remotely. While conventional buck regulator solutions require enough phases to handle the full transient current demanded by a CPU operating in ‘turbo’ or ‘boost’ mode, the VTM’s own Turbo Mode delivers up to twice its rated continuous current for up to 10ms, thereby accommodating transient CPU operating modes without sacrificing system power density and cost.

Vicor has pioneered 48V direct-to-PoL power conversion with their latest generation products expanding a family of VTM and PRM modules that have exhibited substantial improvements in each generation. In addition to its Factorized Power families of PRMs and VTMs, Vicor’s portfolio of 48V input PoL products encompasses an ecosystem of regulating converters, such as its PI35xx family of Cool-Power ZVS buck regulators, suitable for powering a wide variety of loads, and auxiliary power rails, directly from a 48V bus.

From distributed to centralised power system applications, Vicor’s families of modular DC-DC and AC-DC power components, and its Power Component Design Methodology and online PowerBench tools, enable power systems engineers to rapidly configure and implement complete systems offering field proven reliability and predictability and industry-leading performance, density, efficiency and economy.