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Re-Thinking Server Design

Re-Thinking Server Design
by Alex Lidow on 09-16-2015 at 12:00 pm

The demand for information is growing at an unprecedented rate. Our insatiable appetite for communication, computing and downloading, is driving this demand. With emerging technologies, such as cloud computing and the internet of things, not to mention the 300 hours of video being loaded to YouTube every minute, this trend for more and faster access to information is showing no signs of slowing. What makes the transfer of information at high rates of speed possible are racks and racks of computing equipment – data centers. What is required to run these computing engines is having electrical power delivered efficiently at extremely precise levels to various parts of numerous servers. Converting a distributed 48 VDC to individual processors running at 1 VDC precisely and efficiently is the crux of the challenge for today’s power conversion systems designers. This challenge must be met in order to meet the demands of the information explosion – simply put, the delivery of power needs to keep pace with the expansion of computing power.

How will power conversion systems continue to improve in order to keep pace with the rapid improvements in computing power and the need for efficient data centers? Traditionally, power conversion has been accomplished using silicon-based power transistors, but it is well known that silicon components are reaching their theoretical performance limits. A higher performing base material is needed for semiconductors, if the demand for more and faster communications and computational tasks continue…demands will certainly grow.

Fortunately, in the past few years alternative higher performing materials, such as gallium nitride, have emerged. This material has the potential to perform more than 1000 times better than silicon. From a performance point of view, gallium nitride (#GaN) is one of the most promising technologies and, what is really exciting, is that GaN has been shown to be price competitive with traditional silicon technology – and is already less expensive to produce. This is a disruptive technology.

So we wrote a book…

Given our experience with GaN technology we created new power conversion solutions using GaN devices and made performance comparisons with silicon power transistors traditionally used in power conversion systems.
Overall, this book is an aid to leading edge power systems designers to understanding and adopt gallium nitride power transistors for use in the ever-demanding application of DC-DC conversion for computing platforms, and to examine possible new directions for delivering efficient power to computing equipment within data centers. As the first book to re-examine Datacom power architecture using non-silicon based semiconductors, we examine new power conversion solutions with specific hardware examples.

The book shows how the dramatic improvement in switching performance of gallium nitride transistors as compared to silicon not only permits vast improvements in existing converters, but prompts a fresh look at changing power conversion system architectures.
In very specific ways, this book examines the benefits of enhancement-mode gallium nitride (eGaN®) FETs in power conversion applications with an input voltage range centered around 48 V with load voltage as low as 1 V. Examples of conventional PWM isolated converters, unregulated isolated converters of both hard-switched and soft-switched designs, and finally non-isolated converters using eGaN FETs are considered.

By combining the discussion of power systems architecture and GaN technology performance, we propose, create, and test a new power delivery architecture that takes advantage of the superior performance attributes of GaN. eGaN FETs and integrated circuits have demonstrated their ability to enable new power delivery approaches that can significantly improve overall system efficiency, power density, and cost.

Buy your copy now at: http://epc-co.com/epc/Products/Publications/DC-DCConverterHandbook.aspx


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