A mainstay of LEDs and RF applications, GaN technology has gradually been making inroads in the power market, initially at relatively low voltages and now at voltages for AC mains power converters.
Building on that momentum, Power Integrations—a maker of high-voltage integrated circuits for energy-efficient power conversion—recently announced that it has expanded its InnoSwitch™3-MX isolated switcher IC family with the addition of three new PowiGaN™ devices.
As part of a chipset with Power Integrations’ InnoMux™ controller IC, the new switcher ICs now support display and appliance power supply applications with a continuous output power of up to 75 W without a heatsink.
“It’s become very topical in the power market now because of the confluence of the technology maturation, system level understanding about how to use it and the increase in demand for high efficiency and highly compact power sources,” said Doug Bailey, VP Marketing, Power Integrations, in an email to FierceElectronics.
According to a press release, the chipset employs a unique single-stage power architecture that reduces losses in display applications by 50% when compared to conventional designs, increasing overall efficiency to 91% in constant-voltage and constant-current LED backlight driver designs.
Additionally, by eliminating the need for post regulation (i.e. buck and boost) stages, TV and monitor designers can halve component count, improving reliability and reducing manufacturing cost. With a high breakdown voltage of 750 V, the PowiGaN InnoSwitch3-MX parts are also extremely robust and highly-resistant to the line surges and swells commonly-seen in regions with unstable mains voltages.
Bailey declined to offer further details, but he did comment on the advantages of Power Electronics’ specific approach. “Because we integrate the GaN transistor together with the driving and control circuitry (plus other functions including protection) within the same package, it enables users to benefit from the GaN technology without having to learn new device behavior. This does provide significant technical and market advantages. The good news, and what most power engineers need to know, is that the parts work well and are robust and reliable – the actual method of manufacture is not important.”
He also elaborated on the benefits of increased efficiency. “First, is the obvious savings in electrical usage, which may help an engineer meet a regulatory threshold which permits the systems to be sold in a particular region, or perhaps to reach a marketing goal as expressed in a labeling scheme such as ENERGY STAR® or the EU’s notice on many consumer and lighting products, including monitors and TVs. There is also a benefit when the equipment is mobile and running from a fixed power source (battery) – the equipment can perform its function for longer before running out of energy.”
The second benefit, he noted, that results from efficiency is compactness. “Many power converter systems are limited in size by thermal dissipation due to the components. High efficiency in the power converter reduces the heat generated, and therefore the amount of heat-sinking or surface area needed to get rid of it.”
Samples of the INN3478C, INN3479C, INN3470C InnoSwitch3-MX ICs are available now with prices starting at $2.52, $3.14 and $3.71 respectively in 10,000-piece quantities. Technical support for the chipset is available from the Power Integrations website.