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APEC 2014: Jeff Nilles From TI Reviews the Conference & Events on Wednesday, Day 4

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of guest blogs by Jeff Nilles from Texas Instruments. Jeff will be giving us his observations of APEC 2014 as he tours the conference this week.

On Wednesday, APEC held their annual social event, this year at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, the Fort Worth AT&T stadium. The playing field was definitely big enough to accommodate all of us. They warmed us up by taking souvenir pictures of us throwing or receiving footballs. After an hour, the queue got quite long when the Dallas cheerleaders joined the photo booth. Here is a picture of me with my wife, Jayne. Definitely the most popular event that night.

The food was great at the event. True south-of-the-border shrimp tacos were my favorite. It was much better than last year’s finger food and kid’s menu at the Long Beach Aquarium. By the way, after APEC 2015 in Charlotte, we will return to Long Beach for APEC 2016.

Now let’s talk technical. I thought Wednesday morning's Intel “FIVR” Haswell presentation was a bit light. I would have liked to see more discussion of the material that was in the paper. However, Ed Button did have a good picture of the 140 MHz air-core inductors on flex used in the 16-phase switcher. I was hoping for better than 90% efficiency for such easy duty cycles, but I do not think that fine-tuning the efficiency was Intel’s concern. Most people were impressed with the 80 MHz unity gain bandwidth. But that should be easy for a 22 nm process.

A paper that caught my eye Wednesday was the technical session 8.1 “Resonant Switch-Capacitor Voltage Regulator With Ideal Transient Response,” by Mor Mordechai Peretz. This is a soft-switching, switched capacitor buck, using a 1 uF external capacitor. It does have 4 amps of output current. With a Vin range of 2X, it does require three switches, and a 150 nH inductor in series with an energy storage capacitor to force resonant. Here the capacitor is storing all the energy, with really nothing in the inductor. See the diagram below.

I think we might see more papers on this soon, because capacitors can store more energy per area than inductors. This architecture could yield the highest power density in a few years. Right now the frequency is only 250 KHz.

There were a lot of GaN papers this year. On Wednesday, HRL Labs was showing a >50 V/nSec switch fall or rise time for its experimental GaN. It even showed a 100 V/nSec scope shot, but I assume that one blew their “AlN” gate oxide away. It was not the only one to address this, so a trend has surfaced. That is the problem with driving the gate of the GaN devices. This has led to the “DrMos” concept coming back, however this time for GaN, instead of MOS eight years ago. Last year there was lots of talk about modules for GaN because of package inductance problems. Both of these issues just seem to force a new type of package or co-packaging for GaN.

I will talk a bit about the Thursday technical sessions in my next blog — even my 5 MHz GaN flyback project!

17 comments on “APEC 2014: Jeff Nilles From TI Reviews the Conference & Events on Wednesday, Day 4

  1. Davidled
    March 24, 2014

    It looks like Semiconductor Company is more interesting for GaN that holds more electric field than silicon. GaN based LED lamp saves more energy, compared to the conventional lamp. In the future, each R&D of company will focus on the development of the chemical compound.

  2. Netcrawl
    March 25, 2014

    GaN is getting too much attention these days, has turned out to be the top choice for most of today's semiconductor applications. It can handle high power density and offer enhanced power efficiency than Si devices. GaN's unique chracteristics such as high oscillation frequency and high maximum current makes it a top choice for numerous applications in aerospace and military. GaN is getting bigger and poses to replace exisitng silicon technology.  

  3. geek
    March 25, 2014

    “GaN based LED lamp saves more energy, compared to the conventional lamp. In the future, each R&D of company will focus on the development of the chemical compound.”

    @DaeJ: The savings in energy are there but what about the initial costs of GaN based lamps? Is there a high initial cost? Do the operational savings still justify that?

  4. geek
    March 25, 2014

    “GaN is getting bigger and poses to replace exisitng silicon technology.  “

    @Netcrawl: I think that also depends on the availibility of the material. Is it available as easily and as abundantly as silicon? What about the reserves and how long can they last? That is one critical factor in deciding whether it will replace silicon or not.

  5. Davidled
    March 25, 2014

    Cost of material could not be ignored.  Whatever costs will be charged back to customer. But, if pay more in the initial cost, I think that saving the energy of lamp will end up to save the customer energy bill of either house or office, since lamp could be used for more than 2 years. Personally, I am more concerned for raw material access.

  6. samicksha
    March 26, 2014

    The recent and wide use, GaN-based violet laser diodes are used to read Blu-ray Discs. We might soon see them in Nanotubes.

  7. geek
    March 27, 2014

     


    “The recent and wide use, GaN-based violet laser diodes are used to read Blu-ray Discs. We might soon see them in Nanotubes.”

    @Samicksha: That's an interesting fact. I believe the blue-ray discs are becoming obsolete as flash-based storage is taking over. It's an interesting prospect to see innovation being taking place on a technology that's not likely to last for a very long time.

     

  8. geek
    March 27, 2014

    “Personally, I am more concerned for raw material access.”

    @DaeJ: I find that concerning too. Unless there's an assurance of an abundant supply, companies would not invest in developing the technology to process it and manufacture stuff made out of it. No matter how promising it may be, the access to the material could restrict all the development in this area.

  9. samicksha
    March 27, 2014

    @tzubair, I am not sure if blue-ray discs are disapperaing from market, as a matter of fact i see is 3D video/ 3D Game/ Cartoon CD's are still getting sold and popular.

  10. chirshadblog
    March 27, 2014

    @samicksha: I also don't think Blue-ray is disappearing at all. It just came into the market and even for some parts of the world it has not even touched yet. 

  11. geek
    March 28, 2014

    “I am not sure if blue-ray discs are disapperaing from market, as a matter of fact i see is 3D video/ 3D Game/ Cartoon CD's are still getting sold and popular.”

    @samicksha: A technology doesn't die out in a day. It takes a while before it does so. Of course there are still CDs and DVDs being produced and sold, but the growth rate is negative. Flash-based storage is taking over it.

  12. Sachin
    March 31, 2014

    This looks like a very simple and basic circuit but what I like the most about it is the fact that it represents in a very simple format something that most of us in analog design have come to realize as a fundamental concept, that there is no need to use inductors to store energy in circuits that include many capacitors if the highest power density yield is to be attained. In terms of energy stored per area, the inductors do not even come close to the capacitors.

  13. SunitaT
    March 31, 2014

    I second samicksha. Blue – ray discs are still in the market and without any doubt they will not disappear any time soon.  Blue- ray discs continue to survive for the rampantly growing of gaming industry business.

     

  14. SunitaT
    March 31, 2014

    I have come across a few papers on Intel's new 140 MHz air core inductors and in spite of the criticism that has been leveled towards them I still believe that they deserve more praise. It is easy to say that a 22nm process should not have any problem pulling up 140 MHz looking at the larger picture you have to take into account the strides taken to get there, including gaining a whopping 80MHz unity gain bandwidth.

  15. yalanand
    March 31, 2014

    It just came into the market and even for some parts of the world it has not even touched yet.

    @Chirshadblog, I agree with you. In India still DVD's are very popular and blue-ray discs are hardly available in the market. I hope this technology doesnt disappear and reach everyone.

  16. yalanand
    March 31, 2014

    I believe the blue-ray discs are becoming obsolete as flash-based storage is taking over.

    @tzubair, its a possibility. If streaming content becomes more and more the norm, people will begin to abandon the now popular disc format the way we abandoned VHS for DVD.

     

  17. amrutah
    April 1, 2014

    @Yalanand: I agree.  With the increasing the internet penetration, the streaming will take prominence and with everything on cloud storage i think the usage of disc drives will reduce drastically.  I have hard disk drive on my laptop and I don't remember the last time when I used it.

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