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Spreading it around

Are power requirements constricting design parameters? By Philip Ling.

Hardware developers, particularly those producing digital boards, are faced with many challenges. Whilst the power density and complexity of circuits are constantly increasing, board space is often tight, development resources are being reduced and there is enormous cost pressure.
The fact that the number of supply voltages required continues to increase often only adds to the problems. As well as the obligatory 3.3V for the supply of most digital components and the I/O ports of dsps, fpgas and the like, voltages of 2.5V, 1.8V, 1.5V or even lower are frequently also necessary, each with several watts of power. Nobody wants a design to be constrained by power supply requirements, which is why power supply manufacturers are coming up with innovative solutions.
Up to a point, the move to distributed power in general helped with the challenge of supplying the same board or system with the same or different voltage levels, but as overall power requirements continue to increase, so too does demand for a more sophisticated solution.
According to Hans-Peter Ludeke, application engineer for Tyco Electronics, the use of a sophisticated and extremely flexible ‘modular system’ can help to cut costs and development time, reduce the resulting power dissipation and achieve standardisation in terms of the power supplies used.

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Vanessa Knivett

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