The aviation and defense market continues to increase in demand, with further reduction in size and weight required along with excellent system ability to maintain high energy efficiency. The solutions required for these applications must meet the increasing power density, capacity, and time requirements to reach the market, and traditional DC / DC converter bricks strive to achieve this. To overcome this challenge, it is imperative to choose an appropriate power delivery network and use high density power units. Increasing the power density of DC / DC inverters in the MIL-COTS market has enormous benefits, including a reduced size and weight budget that allows military power system designers to focus more on the C4ISR capabilities required in their challenging applications. The Vicor Corporation offers such solutions to meet size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) requirements with its range of low noise and high energy density modules. “A good example of this is our DCM family of isolated and regulated DC / DC inverters,” said Rob Russell, Vice President of Product Marketing at Vicor. “When compared to the best brick package solutions, our innovative ChiP and VIA packages enable solutions of 2.5 x energy density by volume and over 3 x energy density by weight.” Modular power design for defense applications The Vicor’s DCM power reduces one-off design costs associated with specific transformers. The DCM’s high-frequency switching simplifies the filtering process required to avoid increased interference. The DCM5614 (270V to 28V, 1300W, 96% efficiency) operates from a 180- to 400-VDC primary source to deliver an isolated and regulated secondary output, 28V, Extra Low Voltage (SELV) safety. This unit, available in chassis or PCB mounted form factors, includes a DC / DC converter, overflow protection, and optional analog or digital communication. PMBus-compliant provides a telemetry and control interface to configure fault monitoring and other telemetry functions. For aircraft loads, the DCM5614 (141.43 x 35.5 x 9.4 mm) converts the 270-V bus available throughout the aircraft into 28 volts when required and provides 1,300 watts for the load. To provide EMI filtering and transient protection, Vicor introduces the MFM filter family to enable designers to meet the emission scalability / sensitivity made per MIL-STD-461E / F and input transients per MIL-STD-704 or MIL-STD-1275 for DCMs for nominal input voltage 28 or 270V in VIA or ChiP package. “The rest of the DCM family is very well established and used in many military applications such as unmanned aircraft, radar and various robotic applications,” Russell said. The high efficiency of the DCM family of 96% reduces the size of the heat sink required, saving more space. In the figure below, DCMs are paralleled to increase the power required, and transformers can be added for future power requirements. The capability of parallel DCMs significantly reduces time to market when applications need to scale based on variable load requirements. Set of three 1.3 kW DCM5614 VIA inverters. They provide the organized V-28 bus. (Source: Vicor – Aerospace) The growth of AI is creating opportunities and challenges in strength. More defense applications are leveraging AI to ensure safer and more effective operations. As a result, additional taxes are being imposed on energy delivery through the adoption of artificial intelligence in military applications. “This is reflected in commercial applications where power consumed by ASICs and GPUs address complex AI workloads,” Russell said. “In most cases, power delivery is now the limiting factor in computing performance as new processors attract ever-increasing currents.” Power delivery not only involves power distribution but also includes efficiency, size, cost, and thermal performance of a power conversion solution. “By working in partnership with the largest processor companies in the industry, Vicor has created a line of products that enable AC or high voltage distribution and 48-V modulus power engineering solutions directly to load,” Russell said, noting that a 48-V distribution provides maximum voltage SELV which reduces distribution losses by 16 × compared to conventional 12-V distribution. All of these products feature the high density and high efficiency required to meet the needs of large-scale computing systems with CPUs, GPUs, or the most advanced ASICs. Soon, commercial processor technology will be required in AI applications in aviation and defense, thus, innovative high-performance AI solutions developed by Vicor will also be required. Encapsulation provides energy density for military innovations Encapsulation plays an important role in being able to provide high density energy. “Without innovation in power module encapsulation technology, advances in energy density, current density and efficiency cannot be achieved,” said Robert Gendron, Vice President of Product Marketing at Vicor. Vicor’s latest innovation in packaging technology is called the “ChiP” (transformer included in the package). It is made and cut from standard sized PCB board, with both sides using active and passive components. Thermal management is a key consideration in building the unit, with cooling design in mind on both sides to maximize performance and power density. “DCMs use innovative power switch and switch regulation controllers to enable further advances in efficiency, power and current density,” Gendron said. “These features, along with the addition of advanced packaging for space management and thermal and environmental challenges, make the DCM product line an ideal choice for aerospace and defense system designers. As the defense and aviation market continues to innovate and grow, compliance and reliability standards will be maintained to ensure safety and performance.” Energy solutions need to meet challenging SWaP-C requirements, more power will be demanded in the same space or smaller.To fulfill these evolving requirements, the power design module approach is beneficial for providing reliability, flexibility and power density.