Rethinking Power Density and Stretching the Limits of the Power Supply

Texas Instruments (TI) vice president of Asia and president of Taiwan, Korea and South Asia Luke Lee shared with COMPUTEX how TI is helping to expand data centers and making these centers more efficient at data computation and processing through the adoption of gallium nitride (GaN) technology and increasing power density.

Growing Power Needs Demands Efficient Use, Not More Power Generated

Computex Daily, Taipei – The COMPUTEX 2022 Forums kicked off today, with leading figures in the industry invited to share their insights on technology improvement and putting these new technologies to use, as well as seizing the momentum of technological advances to also shape the future.

Texas Instruments (TI) vice president of Asia and president of Taiwan, Korea and South Asia Luke Lee

Texas Instruments (TI) vice president of Asia and president of Taiwan, Korea and South Asia Luke Lee shared with COMPUTEX how TI is helping to expand data centers and making these centers more efficient at data computation and processing through the adoption of gallium nitride (GaN) technology and increasing power density.

Despite seeing use as a semiconductor component as early as the 1990s, the GaN compound is only now growing in popularity as its power density and very high voltage breakdown limits are increasingly eyed by the developers of 5G networks. It is also seeing numerous applications in a wide range of other sectors, such as autonomous vehicles.

New data centers that embrace technological improvements are being constructed all over the world to enable artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions, a development that has inevitably increased the demand for power and computational power.

However, another growing international trend is the development of environmentally friendly, or “green,” technology. This has led engineers to conclude that the surge in power demand should be addressed through efficient power use, rather than an increased in the amount of power generated.

TI’s solution to help systems punch above their weight class, but continue using the same amount of power, is the C2000 line of real-time microcontroller units (MCUs). The complex power topology of the C2000 family enables greater power density and higher efficiency, which was accomplished by moving to a bridgeless topology that cuts down on loss due to bridge diodes.

These MCUs integrate GaN drivers that move to a higher frequency soft-switching converter for an improvement to power density, allowing switching speeds to reach 150V/ns and the range of switching frequencies increasing to more than 500KHz. This helps to reduce loss and allows an up to 60 percent reduction in magnetics size, further enhancing performance and cutting down on system costs.

To ensure the safety of high-voltage systems, TI uses a proprietary GaN-on-Si process, as well as reliability testing and protection features.

With a solution in hand, TI has built six new wafer fabs — one in Richardson, Texas; another in Lehi, Utah; and a complex of four fabs in Sherman, Texas, construction of which started in February — to ensure that it is capable of supplying its clients and partners. Combined, these six wafer fabs are expected to shoulder the brunt of TI’s production for the next decade to a decade-and-a-half, although TI is also exploring continued worldwide assembly options and leveraging external partners for further expansion.

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