There are few things today that stay the same over any length of time, even in power. So it's nice to know that this year's Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition (APEC) is, by all indications, keeping to the high standards for which it has always been known.
APEC (www.apec-conf.org), which will be held Feb. 9-13 in Miami Beach, is the prototypical good conference. The most important attribute of a really good conference is the ability to tell design engineers what's just around the corner. I particularly like this conference's preparation in focusing on the most important and timely subjects through formal and informal discussions, cutting to the chase via both tech sessions and "rap" sessions.
I also like the conference's practical approach, centering on information that users can apply or carry forth into their jobs right now instead of on "pie-in-the-sky" discussion. In just a few days, users can catch up on what's here, what's coming and how to get there. This year, the hot topics will include digital control, dc/dc magnetics, the evolution of brick styles and the rise of alternative power sources.
When it comes to tracking advances, I believe that the trade press and technical conferences have a symbiotic relationship. Good trade journals impart info in much the same way as good conferences. The subject categories above are about as leading-edge as one can get in power, and EE Times will cover them in full. One reason is that each is likely to undergo a metamorphosis.
For example, this looks to be the year that digital signal processing (DSP) makes an advanced contribution to power control electronics. Planar transformers will take one step closer to commodity status. New distributed-power architectures using brick and non-brick dc/dc designs will quickly be established.
Fuel cells, meanwhile, look to take their place in autos a bit earlier than most people reckoned. Already, prototype models have been announced that reportedly go 135 miles before recharging.
We'll be there to cover it all, complementing the economic recovery that most observers now expect will finally start up in the second quarter. It should be an exciting year.
Vincent Biancomano covers power products for ProductWeek. Contact him at email@example.com.