The 90 to 97 percent efficient Helix Semiconductors eMpower HS200 DC/DC converter steps down 48 V to extremely low voltages for modern chips while exceeding the "zero power" goal for standby use by 10 times.
LAKE WALES, Fla. — Today’s semiconductors run on extremely low voltages compared with their power sources, requiring DC/DC power supply output-voltage conversion from the 12 to 48 V typical for the source to as low as 1.5 V. In addition, electronic-device applications from smart grids to VoIP phones have adopted a “zero power” goal, defined as lower than 5 milliwatts, for standby mode.
Helix Semiconductors designed its eMpower line of voltage converters, announced at this year’s IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference(APEC 2017), to meet zero-power expectations for voltage conversion efficiency. The latest addition to the line, the HS200 DC/DC converter, exceeds the zero-power goal by 10 times, consuming 0.5 mW in standby mode, according to Helix.
“Our end-to-end efficiency comparison measurements have shown that the HS200 provides up to a 10 percent improvement over competitors’ latest offerings converting 48 V to regulated 5 V, and a significantly higher improvement over most available 48-V-to-low-voltage converters,” Harold Blomquist, president and CEO of Helix Semiconductors, told EE Times.
The HS200 DC/DC converter is designed for applications requiring voltage conversion from unregulated 12- to 48-V inputs to outputs as low as 1.5 V (or to 5 V, which can then be stepped down again with an inexpensive, widely available point-of-load regulator next to chips with different requirements, from 3.3 to 1.5 V). Besides smart grids and VoIP phones, the target applications include telecom blades, data centers, power over Ethernet, wireless access points, security cameras, electric and hybrid automobiles, industrial controllers, HVAC systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices and their gateways.
The launch is a milestone for Helix, whose reach now extends to applications that “equate to a total available market of 3 billion devices worldwide,” Blomquist said. “Our goal is to continue to push the envelope to bring true zero power to any device that uses a power supply.”
The HS200 uses Helix’s patented MuxCapacitor voltage reduction technology to achieve 97 percent efficiency at 2.6 W and greater than 90 percent efficiency at 15 W. The MuxCapacitor scheme uses a three-stage architecture (see diagram). Each stage divides its input voltage in half, allowing three voltages to be supported simultaneously up to a maximum total load of 15 W.
Besides its chips, Helix offers evaluation boards in three configurations (one pictured): single 12-V output, triple 24-V/12-V/6-V outputs, and regulated 5-V output. Each board includes wiring diagrams, schematics, a bill of materials (BOM), and Gerber vector-format 2-D binary image files.
Helix plans to take the HS2000 into volume production in December, Blomquist said.
Helix launched the eMpower line in March at APEC 2017, showing the HS100, an AC/DC voltage converter that uses same MuxCapacitor technique for safety isolation of 90- to 240-VAC inputs to produce 5-VDC outputs of up to 10 W. The next product in the pipe is the 65-W HS110 AC/DC chip set, which will target laptop and phone adapters/chargers LED TVs and monitors, set-top boxes, and IoT gateways, Blomquist said.
Helix is also collaborating with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to use capacitive isolation technology to provide isolation of supplies up to 3 kV without the large, heavy transformers required today. Since the largest component of an AC/DC supply is the transformer, capacitive isolation could yield smaller, lighter-weight, less costly high-voltage isolated power supplies.
“We are developing a transformerless version of the HS110, called the HS300,” Blomquist said. “The HS300 will do away with the large, costly, inefficient transformer used in virtually all isolated AC mains-to-low-voltage converters.”
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times