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      Gary Sapia,

      Director, Power Technology Development and Market Expansion

      Analog Devices

      Portrait image of Andrea Pizzutelli.
      Andrea Pizzutelli,

      Senior Director of Product Applications in Data Center Equipment

      Analog Devices

      Author Details
      Gary Sapia
      Gary Sapia received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Texas A&M University, with advanced technology courses in power electronics and RF system design. He has over 28 years of experience focused on the design and development of analog systems, including power conversion and high frequency solutions for the communications and GPS markets. Prior to joining Analog Devices, Gary spent 18 years as a field applications engineer at Linear Technology (now part of ADI), focused on Cisco and other prominent Bay Area networking companies.
      Andrea Pizzutelli
      Andrea Pizzutelli holds a Ph.D. in information technology and an electrical engineering Laurea degree from Politecnico di Milano in Italy. He has 15 years of experience developing integrated power conversion products and has held various positions focusing on data center, telecommunications, and notebook markets. Andrea has also co-authored multiple scientific papers and holds numerous U.S. patents.
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      Perched atop a 25-meter mast on the edge of the Mojave Desert, a 5G radio transceiver is exposed to searing heat. But the use of smaller and lighter components, combined with more efficient electronic systems, produces less heat and allows the transceiver to keep cool and functioning. Simultaneously, at a nearby data center, spread out over 1,000 acres, banks of servers are executing millions of searches and high-demand workloads, catering to an increasingly information-hungry world. The vast, data intensive technology demands fast transitioning high currents and very high-power component densities that maximize efficiency to operate and rapidly deliver content.

      Image shows a 5G antenna structure in the middle of a very hot desert sky with a sun blaring on the left of the image.

      Across the advancing communications world, the most challenging technical hurdles for today’s power electronics are size, weight, and power (SWaP). Almost every application seems to be getting smaller and lighter while demanding more power. The need to optimize SWaP drives the power electronics industry, as power management technology is central to today’s data center and communication industry.


      Reducing power consumption is financially prudent, given its major impact on operational expenses. The rise of 5G and high data rate systems has drastically increased data center processing power demands. Power costs comprise up to half of a typical data center’s costs, with 30% to 40% of that figure attributed to building cooling systems1. Inefficient power systems produce heat. Therefore, a more efficient power system will require less energy to operate, less space devoted to cooling systems, and less money spent on fans, heat sinks, and other forms of thermal management.


      Graphic image shows the four vectors of intelligent power management. These include: Fast Transient response, Higher Efficency, Higher Power Density, and intelligent systems management.
      Innovations in power follow four vectors.

      Communications companies powering extremely high current devices no longer rely on reaching power-saving targets with off-the-shelf components. They leverage innovative materials and packaging methods to make smaller and lighter 5G radios. Smaller electronics circuits using less metal, plastic, and other resources can help technology leaders attain their sustainability targets.


      Graphic Icon depicts a smaller footprint for data centers.


      Graphic Icon depicts the Reduced weight for data centers.


      Graphic Icon depicts the increased power and efficiency.


      The need to reduce size, weight, and power (SWaP) remains a constant for data centers and for the communications industry. Data centers2 , social media companies, connected device manufacturers, cloud service providers, and search engine giants are working to achieve some fo the challenges around sustainability.


      On the wireless side, the focus is on maximizing power density and efficiency while minimizing the size of the 5G application. Providing the flexibility to incorporate additional capabilities or functionality are also areas of focus. Operating in a smaller space translates to functioning more cost-effectively and efficiently. The potential for advances in wireless communications is vast. Opportunities include alternative ways of packaging to reduce size, weight, and power that produce fewer components and a smaller footprint. Reducing the size of the board frees up space to integrate new technologies or functionality, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and speech recognition.

      Lower noise systems require less shielding;
      less shielding requires less weight and smaller size.


      Efficient power conversion is key to a well-run system, but this usually comes at the cost of size. High-frequency switching power conversion is necessary for reducing size. However, this decreases efficiency and increases electromagnetic interference (EMI) noise which can disrupt highly sensitive devices such as 5G network RF transceivers. Innovative technology, like ADI’s Silent Switcher® power converters, reduce EMI and improve overall power system performance while operating at high frequency.

      The 5G radio installation enables global cell and internet connectivity, transforming how people communicate, learn, work, and play. This could impact healthcare workers and emergency responders, who rely on technology for critical communication and incident alert management.

      Image shows an emergency worker communicating with a hand-held walkie talkie device, in the background is an ambulance and an emergency worker treating someone inside.

      The need for on-demand data and storage is soaring among businesses and consumers, requiring data centers to significantly increase power, and emphasizing the critical need for efficient power conversion to manage an already strained power grid system. Improvements in power management technology are essential, as some data centers consume as much electricity as a small city of 80,000 people3.

      Application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), custom designed for a specific application, are the biggest power consumers. For the same amount of power, ADI’s solutions tackle this challenge by helping to reduce power conversion losses and lowering heat dissipation.


      Server systems use strict standard form factors throughout the industry. Yet, increasing ASIC performance requires significant increases in power. Given the unchanging size constraints, engineers find solutions using ADI’s solutions that provide high power density through advanced integration and proprietary magnetics, helping to deliver more power, with higher efficiency, and less space.

      Graphic image shows the relationship of power circuits with increased computing capacity and increased power.


      Improvements in circuit and magnetics design, packaging, and integration are also shrinking the power system in wireless and wired communications equipment. µModule® technology, pioneered by ADI, offers high power density solutions, as multiple power components, are packaged inside a single, surface-mount substrate. A conventional power circuit that converts an input bus voltage to system-level voltages may contain as many as 30 separate components. By combining these circuit elements into a single µModule device, equipment manufacturers can shrink the footprint of the power circuit, place it closer to the load, simplify the design, and optimize the system performance.


      To improve system reliability, smart system management is required to manage and control the power systems, essential for enabling long service life and reliable performance for 5G radio and data center server systems. Smart system management enables operators to operate their systems efficiently and reliably over time by applying insights gained from operational data. Smart system management of power provides the ability to monitor power usage and shut down or power up the server racks on-the-fly as needed to conserve energy. Facilities without smart system management may end up with servers being on, unnecessarily, during off-peak hours. By using ADI’s smart system management, data center operators could save power while reducing electricity bills.


      Monitoring and controlling power for failure is essential for safety and reliability. ADI’s intelligent hot swap technology provides critical system connect/disconnect, while monitoring and controlling system operation that insures safe and reliable data center operation. Hot swap solutions help users maintain their systems without the need for operational interruptions. This ensures the client experience is uninterrupted and without failures while giving the operator safe, low component stress, and reduced system failures for reduced lifetime performance degradation. In addition, hot swap detects and records system faults, alerts the system of impeding failures, and prevents catastrophic failure, such as a fire.

      Hot swap’s intelligent technology also manages voltage and current at the rack mounted board level, enabling the safe installation of a backup board (or line card) without the need to power down the entire rack or system. This allows for the reliable servicing of individual units and minimizes service interruptions—saving time and cost.


      Wireless communications and data centers provide the backbone for mobile phone and internet data services, how most of the world stays connected and informed. The sheer scale of these technologies has a monumental impact on both human interaction and power consumption. Power management and the creation of solutions that consume less energy are critically important to not only data center applications, but to industry and the environment. ADI, through its suite of advanced products and technologies, is committed to making it easier for power electronics system designers to bring economically beneficial, safe and reliable data center and communication innovation to the market.