On the flip side: Power converters on the backs of circuit boards reimagine electronics

Painters have canvases. Engineers have circuit boards. And just as an artist peers at a blank canvas and imagines a masterpiece, a design engineer sees worlds of possibilities on a circuit board.

While the painter uses color, texture and technique to create art, the designer uses components – carefully chosen and masterfully arranged – to pack power and performance into each high-tech creation.

Now, thanks to a groundbreaking innovation in power conversion, we’re giving design engineers everywhere more room on the circuit board to create technological works of art.

Introduced in May, our SWIFT™ TPS54A20 series capacitor buck converter enables electronic power supplies to shrink to 20 percent or less of their previous size, freeing vast amounts of board space in a typical electronic system.

This innovation – built on a new topology − provides endless opportunities for system designers who for years have searched in vain for creative ways to pack more features and power into smaller, tighter spaces without losing efficiency. And it has the added bonus of cutting costs without cutting corners. Since systems powered by the converter will require smaller and fewer components, the overall solution may cost less. Read our white paper to learn more.

Granting the wish

Power is everywhere. As our lives become more connected and digital, power converters must be designed into every system. They convert power from one voltage to another to run USB ports, microprocessors, computer and smart-phone screens, WiFi and Bluetooth modules, audio circuits, and many, many more devices that have to fit in a limited space.

Depending on the design and features, some systems require as many as 50 power converters, which is why they can consume up to half the space on a circuit board.

But the power-conversion circuits we design and manufacture are just one component in a solution that also includes capacitors and inductors. Those components historically have been large, and designers have long wished for an overall solution that has a low profile and small footprint.

Our newest power converter grants that wish.

Power to the people

The circuit’s design, industry-leading switching frequency and functionality shrinks the overall power-converter solution to about one-quarter of its previous height and one-fifth of its previous size without any reduction in power or efficiency. It’s the world’s smallest 12-volt, 10-amp power supply and has an operating frequency that’s 10 times faster than the current state of the art.

The device’s smaller size and extremely short height enables designers to mount power supplies to the back sides of circuit boards – opening vast amounts of circuitry real estate for server and telecommunications designs where boards must fit into very narrow slots and freeing valuable top-side board space that can enable enhanced features and functions.

The solution initially will be targeted for communications infrastructure, server, and test-and-measurement applications. But every piece of digital equipment requires power, and they’re all getting smaller. Future applications could include industrial, factory automation, automotive, computers, televisions, personal electronics and even military products.

This device delivers power – power to overcome long-standing size and height barriers, power for more features and functions, and power to designers who want to dream up new and creative ways to improve lives.

For more information:

Blog: No small matter: How to reduce voltage regulator size

Video: How to decrease inductor size in a 10A DC/DC converter design

Information, samples, evaluation module