Back to Basics

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



I’d like to wish you and your families a Happy New Year from all the team at PSD. I hope you had a great break and are back relaxed and refreshed to face the year ahead. Myself, I tried to do as little as possible except see my family and friends and feel much better for it. The first few months of the year always tend to be pretty hectic as the exhibition season gets into full swing. 

My own first exhibition of the year is outside the traditional power industry – in Nuremberg at embedded world. But even here, in an area traditionally dominated by microcontrollers and software, power is becoming more visible. In fact, both areas are becoming increasingly connected. Today’s microcontrollers need much more sophisticated power designs to operate effectively with complex start up routines. Shrinking MCU geometries also need to handle a much higher level of power in a smaller area. The other side of the coin is that power supplies themselves are becoming much more sophisticated and digital power supplies rely on microcontrollers to perform to the highest levels of efficiency.

There will be quite a few power companies exhibiting at embedded world this February. In fact, as I write this, I’ve just had a press release from Rohm detailing what will be on view on its stand (PMICs, solutions for predictive maintenance, power semiconductors and automotive applications, especially functional safety and ADAS if you are interested). Other pure power companies will also be in attendance, for example Power Integrations. Companies with a foot in both the embedded and power camps will also be there, including Renesas, TI, STMicroelectronics and Microchip. It’s sure to be an exciting event and I look forward to seeing companies from both disciplines.

In the January/February magazine, we look at power supplies and magnetics. It’s a rather broad topic which is hard to compress into a few articles. In the issue’s first article, Gary Bocock from XP Power has a look at the installation of open frame and U channel AC/DC power supplies. Power supplies need care during installation to operate effectively and without affecting other components in the system. Gary looks at some considerations for installers, including safety, EMC, thermal management and derating to ensure the power supply performs optimally over its entire lifetime.

Our second special report this month comes from Robin Jeffery at TDK-Lambda. It takes a more in- depth look at the lifetime of power supplies, particularly at what MTBF metric actually means and how it is calculated. More importantly, he goes on to write about how useful the MTBF number actually is to designers at each stage of the products lifecycle.

Along with our special report, we also have general articles from Mouser and TTI on DC-DC converters and power requirements for horticultural applications. It’s a varied bag and I hope you enjoy it. 

Best Regards,

Ally Winning

European Editor, PSD