“48V, in the next few years, we will be able to see a large number of applications in cloud computing, high-performance computing and a wide range of AI markets. Vicor is fortunate to have entered the 48V field earlier.” Vicor Marketing Manager Meng Lingchong said.
A few days ago, at the OCP conference, carbon reduction and efficiency enhancement attracted much attention. As a leading manufacturer of high-density power Modules, Vicor held a professional media conference during the OCP to share the market trends in data center power distribution and its 48V DC power supply system solutions.
48V has been deeply cultivated for many years
With the development of 5G, cloud computing, industrial Internet and artificial intelligence, as the underlying computing infrastructure, data centers are facing new requirements and challenges. The demand for power from terminal products increases, and the original 12V power distribution structure cannot meet the demand. It is necessary to increase the power distribution voltage, and it is the general trend to upgrade to 48V. “In fact, it is not easy to increase the distribution voltage. Vicor has been deeply involved in this field for many years, and can solve this problem through high-performance, high-density modular power solutions.” Meng Lingchong said.
Vicor, located in Andover, Massachusetts, has a 40-year history and is committed to providing a variety of modular power components and complete power systems. The company attaches great importance to innovation, and its annual investment in research and development accounts for about 16% of its revenue. At the same time, it has more than 170 patents, and has innovations in power distribution networks, control systems, components, and packaging. With the continuous increase in market demand, the production capacity has been increased by 6 times after the expansion of the factory in 2018, and a new factory is currently being expanded, which will increase the area by 8,500 feet.
In the 48V power distribution architecture, Vicor’s related solutions have been adopted by giant companies such as Google and Nvidia, and have been tested by the market. With the continuous optimization and evolution over the years, Vicor leads the industry development trend with four innovative advantages of innovative architecture, advanced topology, control system, unique components and packaging in the 48V power distribution architecture.
According to the characteristics of the current market, Vicor provides three solutions to remove the last inch of 48V power, 12V/48V bridge, high voltage DC and AC/DC.
“The demand for low voltage and high current will continue to challenge the power supply design in the future, and it will become more and more challenging.” Vicor senior engineer Yang Zhou pointed out.
The processor voltage is constantly decreasing and the peak current is increasing rapidly
With the pursuit of computing power, from 2000 to 2021, the power consumption of CPU, GPU and AI chips will show a significant upward trend, while the increase in computing power will be accompanied by a rapid increase in current and a slow decline in power-dependent voltage. In 2020, a junction has appeared, the current is about 1200A, and the corresponding power supply voltage is about 0.8. This trend is irreversible. With the further reduction of the wafer process, the corresponding number of transistors per unit area will increase, and the lower the voltage rate the transistors can withstand, this trend will continue.
And low voltage and high current will cause huge “last inch” losses. The distance between the server’s point of load and the CPU is the “last inch”. Yang Zhou introduced that when the current is 200A and 300A, the FIR is probably only 20W and 30W, which is negligible compared to the CPU of several hundred watts. However, when the current rises to 1000A, the loss of FIR reaches 400W, which is pure PCB loss, and the power supply efficiency of the system will drop to less than 50%. If a system is less than 50% efficient, then the design has failed.
In order to solve this problem, Vicor provides a factorial power supply architecture, which separates the functions of voltage regulation and voltage transformation, and can make the second part of the power supply conversion module very small and very thin, from the original PCB board to direct Paste it on the CPU, remove the last inch, and then reduce the loss.
Vicor Factored Power Architecture
In addition, in view of the limitation of PCB space, Vicor also provides a vertical power supply solution, which encapsulates the power modules together and can be directly attached to the opposite side of the CPU, reducing the last inch and saving space at the same time.
NVIDIA accelerator card adopts Vicor solution
12V to 48V Bidirectional Bridge
48V is the future development trend. High power density applications represented by AI chip OAM cards, accelerator cards, and AI edge computing servers have been upgraded to 48V. However, in traditional data centers, 90% of servers are still 12V. Today’s 48V edge computing and traditional computer rooms have to be mixed and matched, so 12V and 48V need an intermediate conversion module.
Vicor provides a 12V-48V bidirectional conversion solution, namely the NBM2317 module, whose input and output can be reversed. During this process, the peripheral circuits do not need to be changed, and the efficiency can be as high as 98%. According to Yang Zhou, the NBM2317 module can achieve a 70% increase in power density compared to other power modules on the market.
Intel OAM accelerator card uses NBM2317
Voltage DC and AC/DC conversion
Around 2015, with the increase in computing power requirements of CPU, GPU, and AI chips, the power density of servers surged, and now the rack-mounted server power supply market has also encountered challenges.
Vicor redeploys AC/DC power modules to address power density challenges
From 2000 to 2010, the power of rack-mounted servers was basically stable at 10kW; from 2010, the power of racks rose, and after 2015, the power rose rapidly; by 2020, the power of one rack was as high as 200kW. “For such a large power demand, a 200kW may not be able to fit several rooms in the past, and now 200kW is required to be placed in a rack, which is a great challenge for power supply.” Yang Zhou said.
The traditional power supply solution is CRPS power supply, and its power density is increasing, but Vicor believes that this improvement is slow, and Vicor hopes to rearrange the power supply solution on the rack with higher power density modules. Therefore, Vicor chose to tile the power modules in the rack or put them on the side of the rack, which takes up little space and leaves more space for computing power.
For the high-voltage DC power module BCM6135, the 380V DC input can be converted to 48V output, which is also a typical application of Vicor’s factorial power supply architecture.
For the AC/DC power module PFM9280, only 92mm×80mm×7.5mm volume (equivalent to the size of an iPad) is used to achieve 5kW power output.
More than just a data center
In recent years, 48V has developed rapidly. Robots, drones, LEDs and other fields have 48V applications. In the future, the application in the field of data centers has been very clear, including rail transit, ATE and other aspects. In addition, automobiles will also be an important application area of 48V. Chen Xinjun said: “Autonomous driving is a major trend in the future, major manufacturers are investing, and automobiles are also a core direction of Vicor. At present, the total baseline of automobiles is 12V, and the power consumption of autonomous driving in the future may be several kilowatts, and the total baseline of 12V may cope with No, Vicor mainly promotes the 48V-centric architecture solution. At the same time, future cars will definitely be very concerned about the size and weight of the solution, and Vicor can provide a small and beautiful solution.”
According to Chen Xinjun, Vicor already has Vicor products in many high-end cars around the world, and relevant news will be announced soon. Extremely light weight and high efficiency are the keys to the successful application of Vicor products.
This year, energy conservation and carbon reduction have become another goal that companies are chasing. Chen Xinjun, Sales Director of Vicor China, said: “The core of energy conservation and carbon reduction is to improve efficiency and reduce costs. We have made a real contribution to increase the density and reduce the cost. Secondly, we will reduce the volume and loss, and comprehensively reduce the cost. The carbon effect is very good.”
Wu Ji, senior field application engineer at Vicor added: “In some practical applications, Vicor provides many high-voltage DC systems, such as 380V to 48V for some charging stations in Beijing. Data centers are a new application, and there are now small power station solar panels. It is 48V, which is also suitable for our application. This product of Vicor just meets the current demand for low carbon.”