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Hitting a brick wall?

As system requirements push towards smaller devices with less power dissipation, have bricks hit the wall? By Patrick Le Fèvre.

The industry has been producing dc/dc modules in the venerable ‘brick’ form factor for more than 20 years and now faces many challenges. The term ‘brick’ refers to the size of dc/dc modules introduced by Vicor in the 1980s – the devices measured 4.6 x 2.4 x 0.5in.
Over the years, bricks have got smaller for a number of reasons, but the prime motivator has been to save space. Responding to this requirement, some companies have had 1/16th brick format modules on the market for the last two years. Meanwhile, DOSA – the Distributed Power Open Systems Alliance – established its 1/16th brick specification more than a year ago, with devices having a footprint of 1.3 x 0.9in.
Despite the fact that 1/16th brick modules have been available for some time, most indications are that the 1/16th brick package style hasn’t taken off and there has been little or no discussion of further size reductions. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, full bricks offering more than 500W have become too powerful for most applications.

Vanessa Knivett

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