The APEC That Could've Been

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



The worst collateral damage of COVID-19 is the decimation of global commerce, and trade shows have been hit especially hard – tough to practice “social distancing” with a few thousand people (or more) clustered together. And one of the most unfortunate victims of this new, quarantined reality was the 2020 Applied Power Electronics Conference.

So consider this a glimpse at “what would’ve been,” the news that would’ve been shared at APEC. And let’s face it – we could all use an update that doesn’t mention a global pandemic (or toilet paper).

Just a reminder – none of this info was released at APEC (which didn’t happen), so when I say “announced” or “revealed,” I mean after-the-fact.

Power Integrations is dispersing its APEC news in grand fashion – their “Virtual Booth” provides user-friendly access to everything they would’ve discussed in New Orleans, including PowiGaN gallium nitride technology, BridgeSwitch BLDC motor drivers, SCALE-iDriver SiC gate driver solutions for automotive and 900 V switcher ICs for regions with unstable mains voltage.

In March, I predicted a deluge of wide band-gap news at APEC, and our industry partners didn’t disappoint. In my post-would’ve-been-APEC meetings, UnitedSiC showed me a presentation titled “Leading the SiC March to Mainstream,” wherein they discussed silicon carbide’s momentous 2019, the company’s successes, and a preview of 2020.

Microchip announced an expanded portfolio of smaller, lighter and more efficient SiC power modules, including Schottky Barrier Diode (SBD)-based power modules in 700, 1200 and 1700V variants. On Semiconductor revealed 900 V and 1200 V SiC MOSFETs for demanding applications including solar power inverters, on-board charging for electric vehicles (EV), uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), server power supplies, and EV charging stations.

On the other side of the wide band-gap spectrum, GaN Systems announced new automotive power transistors, high-power modules, integrated DrGaN modules, and an assortment of design tools. Meanwhile, Transphorm confirmed that their GaN devices were used in Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric Co., Ltd’s 98% efficient power module, with input voltage from 85 V to 264 V and output voltage from 42 V to 58 V.

Texas Instruments provided a GaN update, along with introducing the TPS546D24A DC/DC buck converter, the TPSM53604 DC/DC buck power module, and the UCC12050/40 isolated DC/DC power supply, and Bourns introduced the Model HCT high-clearance/creepage distance isolation power transformer series.

Silicon Labs gave me the lowdown on a comprehensive Power over Ethernet (PoE) portfolio. The IEEE 802.3bt-compliant products add 90 W PoE to power sourcing equipment (PSE) and powered devices (PD).

Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) introduced an 80 V, 12.5 A power stage integrated circuit designed for 48 V DC-DC conversion used in high-density computing applications, while KEMET announced a family of AEC-Q200-qualified metal-composite power inductors to enhance the company’s METCOM range, Vicor highlighted several products (including the PI3740 ZVS buck-boost regulator, which was announced just prior to the show), and Taiwan Semiconductor announced automotive load dump TVS devices.

And last (but certainly not least), AVX Corporation would’ve celebrated 20+ years at the world’s premier power electronics event, highlighting component solutions in a multitude of industries,  and Nichicon is talking up its new distribution agreement with Italian film capacitor manufacturer, ICEL.

Here’s hoping the coronavirus runs its course quickly and next year’s APEC is a lot less cancelled.