Go for the few seats still available at Digital Power Forum '04 in San Jose on September 13-15, the industry's first focused look at all the elements of digital power management and control. You'll be attending a historic event of sorts that gives participants an opportunity to see and discuss the practical side of this emerging area. Right now, companies tap into "digital power" in different ways to replace analog components in power designs, and the term is yet to be clearly defined. Indeed, it's an inflection point in digital power's evolution, says Linnea Brush, senior research analyst at the Darnell Group, and one goal of the forum is to distill the differences in terminology.
So for now, the forum is a catch-as-catch-can event for the conservative versus optimistic camps. "A lot of us don't know what to expect at the forum and what it might achieve," said Tim Phillips, director of strategic marketing for the Computer and Communications Group at International Rectifier, noting that the digital connection is hot but its broad application is hardly assured. Others see it as a defining moment. "There's no question digital is here," said Lou Pechi, director of marketing development at Power-One. "The meeting will get it going. You really need to control functionality digitally. If you use analog converters, you don't have the hooks, the supporting circuitry around them. You don't have the efficiency, the density, and you carry additional baggage."
Most people agree it's too early to talk about setting digital standards. "Right now, we want to look at what is practical," says Phillips. "Presently, there are two areas: Digital management of systems, having nothing to do with digital power control; and that which provides digital feedback. Some companies do one or the other; little has been done combining both." Aside from that convergence, one question will likely center on the DSP versus ASICs approach as an enabling technology for digital power.
Either way, participants will get plenty of design-related information from TI, Astec Power, Power-One, Intersil, Fairchild Semiconductor, and ST Microelectronics . Advisory committee members include IR, Maxim, National, Tyco, Intel, and Cisco. The Digital Power Conversion track includes discussion on the design issues surrounding AC/DC supplies, telecom rectifiers, UPSes, and DC/DC converters. The Digital Power Management track addresses distributed power architectures, voltage sequencing and hot-plugging. Knowledge is key. Darnell's informal poll says about 19 percent of respondents have no roadmap for digital power. Then again, 21 percent said they didn't know enough about it. So add to your knowledge base. Contact Traci Shepard at the Darnell Group at (951) 279-6684 to register.
Vincent Biancomano covers power products for eeProductWeek. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed in this column are strictly those of the author and should not be taken as an editorial position of EE Times or any of its other editors, publications or Web sites. As a matter of record, the Digital Power Forum '04 in San Jose (sponsored by the Darnell Group) will compete for attention with the Portable Power Conference and Exposition (sponsored by IDG) that same week in San Francisco.