Ten years ago, after years of constant urging from colleagues and customers alike, I realigned my calendar and headed to my first ever Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC). I will be on hand this week in Tampa, which I believe marks the event’s 32nd year. In reviewing my last decade of participation, I have two notable observations – one involving a great deal of change and the other, not so much.
What hasn’t changed? The people! I love these people. This is a close, tight-knit, incredibly diverse and demonstrably intelligent community of innovators and engineers whom I trust, admire and respect. Their business cards may change, their hair may gray (or disappear altogether), but both the core and bulk of this community are steady and consistent. That is both fantastic (and concerning) to the future of power engineering, but I’ll leave that topic for another time.
Instead, let’s focus on what has been changing, and fairly dramatically. For the first 20 years of this who’s who in power electronics, the talks and papers, brightly lit hall exhibits and hush-hush back room discussions all focused on “chips and things.” Whether the topology of an integrated circuit (IC), the material used to make discrete products or the packaging of a particular type of module, fancy rectifier or high-powered thyristor, the content was primarily built to educate and display the science surrounding specific parts, components and products.
However, over the last 10 years, I’ve seen a dramatic rise and concentration on systems engineering and subsystem design. Companies help solve customer problems at the subsystem level by utilizing fantastic arrays of power ICs and technologies based on years of system design expertise. Now, all of those people whom I admire so much use their engineering knowledge to tackle the most difficult design challenges imaginable. They are continuously coming up with ideas aimed at improving applications using the most modern topologies and materials on the planet. They are now building comprehensive subsystem-level reference designs, and chasing efficiency and power-density goals that seemed unattainable at the turn of the century.
TI is not the only company taking a more refined approach to providing baked reference design approaches to industrial and automotive power systems. There is an APEC-wide movement afoot. I am, however, particularly excited to see the attendee reactions to some of TI’s latest reference design creations for industrial systems, which include:
3kW Interleaved Totem Pole PFC, GaN-based reference design featured at APEC 2017
End-to-end GaN solution - From AC to point-of-load
It will once again been a very exciting week at APEC. I hope to see you there.
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