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Interview

 
 



TI’s new chip makes way for Smaller, Denser, Cost-effective wireless base station design

Apoorva Awasthy
Business Development Manager, Analog, Texas Instruments India
 
  TT Correspondent |  Bangalore | 29/07/2008

Texas Instruments has recently introduced single chip step down synchronous switcher which finds use in the designing of wireless base station and other telecom applications. Apoorva Awasthy, Business Development Manager, Analog, Texas Instruments India provides more insight in conversation with TelecomTiger.

 

Q1) How different is the new TI single chip step-down synchronous switcher?

Ans: The TPS54620 single chip step-down synchronous switcher is currently the industry’s smallest single chip, 6-A, 17-V step-down synchronous switcher with integrated FETs. It is 60% smaller than today’s multi-chip converters, which results in a complete 6-A power solution which at less than 195 mm2, is actually one-fourth the size of a postage stamp. With a capacity to support input voltages from 4.5 to 17 V, this 1.6 MHz monolithic DC/DC converter allows to manage space-constrained 5-V and 12-V point-of-load designs, necessary in the design of wireless base stations or high-density servers.

 

Most vendors of higher current 12V input step-down converters provide a multi-chip solution, where a discrete controller is placed on a custom lead frame with discrete power MOSFETs in proximity.  The TPS54620 uses a single chip and is able to achieve the smallest solution size.

 

Wireless base stations, for example, will be able to design smaller, denser systems – thus furthering the adoption of more advanced and more cost-effective systems. The fact that the TPS54620 can manage the power to any DSP or FPGA makes it very easy to design.

 

Q2) Telecom vendors say that one of the important concerns is the efficiency level reached under varying load current environment. They complain that efficiency levels guaranteed by chip designers are often not up to the mark. Your take on the issue? 

Ans: It is difficult to guarantee efficiency since external components, input and output voltage conditions and switching frequency affect the performance.   We guarantee the on resistance of the MOSFETs integrated inside the DC/DC converter, and this is an important specification to consider.  Customers are demanding lower on resistance MOSFETs to improve efficiency, and the TPS54620 has 25% lower on resistance than previous 6-A SWIFT DC/DC converters.

 

Q3) Do you think the product has a sustainable differentiation considering the fact that competitors are also working on bringing about technological change in their designs to perform optimally on the power consumption front?

Ans: TI released the first 6A DC/DC converter with integrated MOSFETs, the TPS54610, in 2001.  Now 8 years later, the TPS54620 is 80% smaller than the TPS54610 and switches at two and a half times the switching frequency, and operates at almost 3 times the input voltage.  In other words, the market is constantly changing, and we believe the TPS54620 is on the leading edge of power semiconductor technology.  We are constantly collaborating with customers to help define new products and solve their challenges.

 

Q4) What are your initial level targets for the new chip in terms of shipments, revenues etc?

Ans: We do not divulge our sales targets and figures. However, we do see a good potential in the market for this new product.

 

Q5) Where do you see your business for the new switcher coming from within the telecom space?

Ans: The TPS54620 switcher is essentially a design tool for designers/ manufacturers of wireless base stations and other telecom equipments where it is necessary to be able to design smaller, denser systems. This product is capable of supporting any design with a 5-V or 12-V rail. The demand will mostly be from OEMs and ODMs designing these systems.

 

Q6) Off late if one analyses the product launches of TI, one finds that these are mainly positioned around the power saving aspect. For instance TI’s ADS62P49 in addition to the new single chip switcher? Is there is a precise plan to design your product offerings around this aspect?

Ans: Power saving and power management is something that has always been a focus area for TI. ‘Low power to no power’ is a concept that TI has been working on for a while now and the new product is another entry into the league of robust, power saving ICs that help designers to address their design preferences with maximum efficiency, while using lesser power and thus leaving a reduced thermal footprint.

 

Q7) TI is mainly known for its chips incorporated in designing of mobile handset terminals. Not much is known about your offerings to the designing of wireless base stations and servers. How much business is derived from the wireless communication vertical and server market?

Ans: Wireless base station design has been an area of importance for TI. Towards this, the TPS54620 is the latest addition to TI’s existing line of power management products that cater to this space. The idea behind it is to come up with products that offer more flexibility to designers in designing systems that are capable of handling higher loads, have lower error margins, have higher speeds, range and sensitivity and have highly efficient power conversion ratios.

 

Q8) What are the kinds of investments made by TI in its R&D initiatives and what is the contribution from the Indian operations?

Ans: TI has been a committed R&D company with TI India engineers working closely as a part of the global R&D team in the developmental process for different products/ technologies. Even though there is no specific breakup available in terms of infrastructure or for India operations, engineers work across locations and geographies – exchanging ideas and collaborating effectively to come up with solutions that make sense to the customer.

 

Q9) What is TI India’s market share for the switchers supplied to vendors having their manufacturing base in India?

Ans: We will not be able to divulge our market share as per our policy.

    
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