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Small is beautiful

Finding a compromise between higher power consumption and space saving is not as simple as you may think.

One of the main drivers for space saving on interconnection products is to increase the functionality of the system. Together with the demand for continuously higher speeds, more power consumption is constantly required. However, more power leads to bulkier connectors which contradicts with the demand for smaller interconnect products.
It’s a Catch 22 situation and the designer of interconnection products needs to make a trade off in implementing the power distribution versus the available space for functionality. But is there a compromise in achieving savings in size and weight against maintaining and improving functionality?
Thierry Goossens, product solutions manager for FCI’s ELX division, reasoned: “Compromises are always possible, seen in the different new products we bring to the market, but one of the main topics to find a good compromise for is power implementation. Higher power consumption while distributing a low voltage level gives higher current rates, higher demands for low resistance interconnect solutions, leading to bulky power interconnect products.
“A different approach is to distribute lower current rates, but using higher voltage rates – 48V for example. This leads again to the use of dc/dc converters on the application boards, distributed over the system (difference between centralised and distributed power supply), but they also consume the available space for functionality.”
In military and harsh environment applications, solutions are needed where size and weight is limited, such as avionics, aerospace, defence electronics, industrial control systems and medical diagnostic equipment. The need is for small connectors that are still capable of withstanding the harshest shock, vibration and temperature conditions.
“There is simply not enough space,” noted Omnetics’ Bob Stanton. “Nor, in the case of satellites, is there payload available to rely on the old, tried and tested – but bulky and heavy – Mil Std 38999 circular style connectors. For similar reasons, traditional rectangular D Sub miniature configurations are no longer suitable.”

Chris Shaw

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