High-speed designs use digital components with very fast edge rates in their output signals which can be subjected to significant distortion and degradation creating high bit-error-rates and lower data throughput.  Insertion and reflection losses, crosstalk and impedance mismatch, are all factors, amongst others, influencing the integrity of a transmitted signal.

Empower’s E-CAP silicon capacitors provide wide bandwidth low impedance highly stable decoupling capacitors capable of being placed close and even integrated into an SoC substrate.

Empower Semiconductor is developing power management solutions enabling full unrestricted speed and performance of the latest xPUs.

  • High power density
  • High bandwidth conversion
  • Low power distribution losses
  • Vertical Power

The ability to process data and perform complex calculations at high speeds has been intensified in recent years by leaps in technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3-D imaging and autonomous driving. These technologies have exacerbated the need for faster and more complex processors and architectures.

Equipment designed to operate within a high magnetic field environment can experience power failures or abnormal operating conditions due to the force the magnetic field imposes on ferromagnetic material-based electronics.

Moreover, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices can record false or distorted images due to the inferences from such electronics. Empower’s IVRs regulators use non-ferromagnetic air-core inductors ideal for operating in harsh magnetic environments.

Data being communicated and processed around the globe is rapidly growing, driving the need for a new generation of faster data processing components and elements in data centers and datacom equipment.

Empower Semiconductor offers novel fully integrated power management solutions that both increase performance and solve the power density challenge of space-constrained data-intensive applications.

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System-on-Modules (SOMs) and Computer-on-Modules (CoMs) provide all components of an embedded processing system (processors, communication interfaces, memory blocks, power management, etc.) on a single production-ready printed circuit board (PCB). This modular approach makes them ideal for embedding into a variety of end systems and applications.Empower’s IVRs provide high-density configurable multi-rails regulators enabling rapid and flexible prototyping.

Chiplet architectures are rapidly gaining popularity over monolithic designs in developing complex SoCs. While providing increased performance, design flexibility and upgradability, they do, however, require more complex power management and PCB routing.

Empower’s IVRs can be integrated as an additional chiplet into an SoC increasing the power delivery efficiency and simplifying PCB routing.

Active Cables

As data center connections double in bandwidth with every generation, active cables will become more prevalent if not dominant for short reach connections. There are two types of active cables: Active Electrical Cables (AECs), sometimes called Active Copper Cables (ACCs), and Active Optical Cables (AOCs). Both types have pluggable transceivers permanently tethered together with multiple strands of copper or fiber cable. All pluggable transceivers, whether copper or optical, operate using an industry-standard 3.3V supply from which they must derive the power rails needed internally.  Depending on the semiconductor technology deployed, this may be just a few rails or as many as eight to ten. 

Typically, fewer power rails are needed to implement an AEC than an AOC and there is at least one AEC merchant silicon vendor whose IC requires just one rail – 3.3V. Because of this simplicity, we will focus on AOCs, whose power demands are more complicated.

AOCs are typically architected from the same silicon building blocks as regular optical transceivers in that they need lasers, laser drivers, TIAs (Transimpedance Amplifiers), and CDRs (Clock and Data Recovery). As AOCs are, by definition, short reach, VCSEL lasers are the lasers of choice. High-performance 400G transceivers may also need additional components such as DSPs.

In architecting a 400G AOC, one could either optically choose four lanes of 100G or eight lanes of 50G.  Since 50G lanes are the older, more mature technology, the cost for 50G lanes will be less than 100G lanes, so most 400G cables will initially use an 8x50G configuration. The IEEE has standardized the eight lanes of 50G and named it 400GBASE-SR, or 400G-SR8 for short. While the standard doesn’t apply to AOCs, the same silicon is largely used to design both transceivers and AOCs. And there’s at least one chipset that doesn’t use a DSP.  Such an implementation might use the following power rails.

Table 1: non-DSP AOC Power Rails

In this example, we’re only dealing with two voltages: 1.8V or the input source 3.3V.  The power can be provided for this architecture with a single 1.8V 1A buck converter and we can use a 3.3V input Empower IVR to generate this rail.

A DSP implementation will have a more complex power tree. CMOS DSPs typically require a few power supplies: core digital, digital I/O, and one or two analog power rails as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: DSP-Based Power Rails

A traditional approach to creating the power rails in Table 2 would be to use discrete buck converters. A solution based on that approach is proposed in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Discrete Converters to Address Power Rails in Table 2

This approach is utilitarian – it gets the job done but it takes 45 components and roughly 360mm2 of PCB space and gives a system efficiency of 88%.  Figure 2 shows an alternate implementation using an Empower IVR.

Figure 2: Empower IVR to Address Table 2 Power Rails

With the Empower approach, the goal is to reduce the component count and board footprint. The EP7029C shown handles the core and analog rails of the DSP. In order to feed the EP7029C, the 1.8V rail is oversized so that it can bias the IC and still power the other loads. The goal of footprint and BOM reduction is achieved by the Empower approach as the overall number of components shrinks to just 15 and the PCB area comes in at a compact 155mm2. System efficiency is still a respectable 85%, which is the best achievable given a 3x reduction in components and 2x reduction in area. Figure 3 shows the Implementation of this circuit.

Figure 3: Empower IVR circuit to implement Table 2 Power Rails

With designers continually being asked to pack more functionality into less space, power supply designs are being squeezed like never before. While traditional buck regulator technology trades size for efficiency, Empower IVRs can avoid this compromise by offering the best of both worlds.