Alex Lidow from EPC recently did a short video with us covering a brand new GaN-based DC-DC converter that’s super small and efficient. Lidow says EPC has been working to improve GaN-based dc/dc conversion for about eight years. They had to overcome a lot of barriers to do so because when they first started, there were no driver ICs, magnetics, or controllers. But Lidow says EPC now has GaN-based converters faster and smaller than anything in silicon and cheaper to build as well.
To give an example, Lidow showed us a demonstration system you can buy on the EPC website called the EPC9130. It provides 720 W. It uses fifth-generation EPC 2045 transistors with new uP1966A drivers from uPI in Taiwan, which are more powerful than any others. It also uses new generations of magnetics; in this case, from Vishay and TDK, which help make the device more efficient and able to operate at high frequencies.
Lidow says the resulting converter has an energy density of 1,400 W/in.3, operates at 96% efficiency, and has a bill of materials that costs less than six cents per watt.
The converter is a simple buck converter so its design doesn’t involve a complicated super resonant something or other, Lidow says. It’s just a hard switching buck converter, running in this case at 700 kHz.
Lidow thinks one of the first areas likely to use GaN converter technology is the high end gaming market because gamers really demand enormous performance. Other candidates include autonomous vehicle electronics, cryptocurrency mining, several other areas that are very heavily graphic-intensive, and GPU-intensive.