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Advances in Packaging Crucial to Powering Next Generation Processors

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Ashok Bindra
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Over the years, with advances in semiconductor processing, microprocessors have become more powerful and consume much more power as voltages dropped. Concurrently, power supplies designed to power these devices got more sophisticated, delivering more power at high efficiency from a smaller package with faster transient response and minimal noise and EMI. Aside from improvements in topology, circuit design, including magnetics, advances in packaging played a crucial role in building power supplies for next generation processors. Today, powerful artificial intelligence (AI) processors with billions of transistors on-chip, and offering tera floating point operations per second, are capable of handling more than 1000 A at voltages below 1 V. Powering these new generation processors requires power supplies that can be placed as close as possible to the processor to minimize parasitics while capable of handling thermal challenges.

In the first cover feature article “High Current Density Power Modules Mitigate the Environmental Impact of Power-Intensive GenAI,” the author Maury Wood shows how advanced high current density power modules and vertical power delivery methods can realize a significant improvement in processing performance, while reducing power losses, and saving terawatts of energy annually at the global scale. In the article, the author reveals that the operating current demands of the modern AI processors is very significant and now approaching 2,000 A peak, resulting in environmentally consequential levels of processor power loss and related thermal management complexity. Delivering 2,000 A at 0.7 V utilizing voltage regulators at the point-of-load (PoL) presents a very interesting and important thermal and electrical performance challenge, noted Wood. He added, this requires a new power module packaging technology like the three dimensional interconnect (3Di) that can meet the requisite current density with performance.

The second cover feature “Building the Electric Power Grid One Block at a Time” by Radha Sree Krishna Moorthy and Madhu Chinthavali focuses on a growing need for power electronics (PE) solutions to ease system integration. From charging stations to the power grid, the infrastructure is becoming a conglomeration of PE systems working in unison. Such circumstances demand interoperable, and vendor-agnostic interfaces to ease integration and reduce the balance of system (BOS) costs, says the article. Consequently, the authors have redefined the fundamental units for grid applications, which led to the conceptualization of PE interfaces with a novel architecture called smart universal power electronics regulators (SUPER). SUPER is the highest level of the fundamental unit needed to realize PE systems interfacing resources and loads. Furthermore, according to Moorthy and Chinthavali, “SUPER is a single power conversion unit with standardized interconnections. It is basically a conversion stage with one input and one output port to which a load or an asset can be connected.”

Likewise, the third cover feature “1.2 kV/400 A SiC Source Turn-off (STO) MOSFET Intelligent Power Module” by Zhicheng Guo and Alex Q. Huang proposes a novel and cost effective 1.2 kV/400 A SiC half-bridge intelligent power module (IPM) based on the source turn-off (STO) MOSFET. STO MOSFET is a driver integrated MOSFET architecture that can achieve ultra-fast turn-on and turn-off operations beyond the traditional voltage source gate driver approach. A built-in current and temperature monitoring features are also integrated. The IPM integrates discrete SiC devices, direct bond copper (DBC) base plate, STO gate driver, auxiliary power supply, current monitor, temperature monitor, and decoupling caps, making it plug-and-play ready. According to Guo and Huang, the proven IPM design technology discussed in this article is ready to interface with a digital controller to form three-phase system or power electronics building block for motor drive, PV inverter, solid state transformer applications etc., saving the space for external gate drivers, auxiliary power supplies, and current/temperature sensors.

The next feature “Advances in SiC Technologies Address High-Voltage Electrification Design Challenges” by Ranbir Singh investigates latest developments in GeneSiC technology, and the benefits those bring to new and emerging high-voltage applications, and how such devices can be deployed.

For those engineers who would like to understand the development process of low-voltage power converters, independent of converter size, complexity and power level, the article “Development of Power Electronics Systems in Industrial and Automotive Environments” by Darko Ð Vračar takes you through the process of hardware (HW) development. And prepares newcomers to the world of power electronics HW development.

The sixth feature “ESD Protection for Power Electronic ICs and Discrete Devices” by Kevin Parmenter examines ESD-capable rectifier diodes that can be used to safeguard electronic products and systems from the damaging effects of electrostatic discharge. It helps manufacturers ensure the reliable operation and longevity of their electronic products, systems and infrastructure, states the article.

Finally, the last feature “Plenary Speakers Chart New Path for Power Technologies at APEC 2024” by the Editor-in-Chief summarizes the six plenary presentations by distinguished experts from industry and academia. Plus, it reveals new advances in wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors and silicon devices, as well as components, demonstrated by vendors on the exhibit floor.

New Columns, News, and Revamped Website

In the column President’s Message, IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) president Brad Lehman is excited to launch the revamped PELS website (, which is the result of dedicated work of numerous volunteers and PELS staff members. The aim is to establish the PELS website as the premier destination for all things related to power electronics. Besides the website launch, the message “Powering Society’s Progress Together” maintains its ambitious goals in 2024, and continues to embrace new ideas and initiatives.

Speaking of excitement, the magazine is pleased to add two new columns—”Empower a Billion Lives” and “South American Power Electronics.” To cover global energy poverty crisis, IEEE PELS launched “Empower a Billion Lives,” or EBL, in 2018 to address the energy poverty crisis by stimulating sustainable and scalable technologies and business models to solve the problem of energy access. This column is written by Dr. Ali Husain, director of customer success at EUV Tech. Power electronics activities in South America will be covered in the new column “South American Power Electronics” and the author is Dr. Edison R. Cabral da Silva. He is Professor Emeritus at both the Federal University of Paraiba (UFPB), and the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG), Brazil. His initial focus is on Brazil.

Starting this issue, Brian Rosenbloom is the new contributor to the “Patent Reviews” column. In this issue, he discusses patents based on the RAP session “Patents: Prudent Investment with Future Potential or Inefficient Capital Allocation” that he chaired at APEC 2024. In the PSMA Corner, Renee Yawger provides some details on the “Power Magnetics at High Frequency” workshop held at APEC 2024 in Long Beach, CA, USA. While the Women in Engineering (WIE) column by Stephanie Watts Butler, Neha Beniwal, Yunting Liu, and Sneha Narasimhan describes the talk on emotional intelligence (EQ) by the invited speaker Shawnice Meador, an engineer turned global talent management leader at Wolfspeed, at the WIE breakfast event at APEC 2024. It was part of the new “Elevated Engineer” series introduced by PELS WIE and DEI committees. Likewise, in the Industry Pulse, Stephanie Watts Butler and Kristen N. Parrish investigate the definitions and interpretations of Digital Twin, and the pace at which digital transformation is taking place in the power electronics industry.

Furthermore, there are two different Expert Views in this issue. While Infineon Technologies’ Michael Williams envisions continued dominance of silicon power as wide bandgap (WBG) power technologies increase, Prof. Rajendra Singh of Clemson University proposes the use of end-to-end dc power networks in expediting the green energy transition. Similarly, in the White Hot column “Buckapalooza—Part I,” Bob White takes you through the complexities of custom designing ac–dc power supplies.

Meanwhile, in the column “Students and Young Professionals Rendezvous,” the authors Hongyi Chen, Zhiheng Lin, Rujing Zhang, Min Chen, Kai Sun, Bruna Seibel Gehrke, and Joseph Kozak disclose a new event, the IEEE PELS Student Symposium on Power Electronics in Asia. According to the organizers, the SSPEL—Asia 2024 was successfully held in Hangzhou, China, from 13–14 January 2024 with both in-person and virtual attendees. Also, another article by Zhiheng Lin, Bruna Seibel Gehrke, Nayara Brandão de Freitas, and Joseph P. Kozak uncovers YP reception at APEC 2024 and work plan.

Also, there are two book reviews. Robert V. White reviews “Principles of Power Electronics: Second Edition” by John G. Kassakian, David J. Perrault, George C. Verghese, and Martin E. Schlecht. And Prof. Philip T. Krein reviews “Jumping on the Accelerating Grid Train” by Deepak Divan and Suresh Sharma.

On a sad note, the “In Memoriam” column pays tribute to Prof. Dierk F. Schroeder (1941–2024) of the Technical University of Munich, Germany, and Prof. Ned Mohan (1946–2024) of the University of Minnesota, USA. The power electronics community around the world will surely miss the two mentors.

Last, the Society News Section brings Chapter activities from around the world, and reintroduces the crossword puzzle. The event calendar gives listing of PELS sponsored meetings from June 2024 to June 2025.

In celebration of our tenth anniversary, the September 2024 will be a special issue, where pioneers will be invited to shine light on some exciting new technologies. Plus, founders will reveal the efforts that went into the creation of the magazine.

With your support, we will continue to bring timely useful articles, columns and news of interest and value to practicing power electronics engineers worldwide. To serve you better and keep this magazine a valuable resource for working power electronics engineers around the world, we look forward to your feedback and suggestions. Now, we have a redesigned website (, which is easier to surf and offers more than what is in the print, and where you can easily provide your feedback. Stay safe and healthy.

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