Prospects of voltage regulators for next generation computer microprocessors
ColaboratorAlarcón Cot, Eduardo José; Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Departament d'Enginyeria Electrònica
Document typeDoctoral thesis
PublisherUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Rights accessOpen Access
Synchronous buck converter based multiphase architectures are evaluated to determine whether or not the most widespread voltage regulator topology can meet the power delivery requirements of next generation computer microprocessors. According to the prognostications, the load current will rise to 200A along with the decrease of the supply voltage to 0.5V and staggering tight dynamic and static load line tolerances. In view of these demands, researchers face serious challenges to bring forth compliant solutions that can further offer acceptable conversion efficiencies and minimum mainboard area occupancy. Among the most prominent investigation fronts are those surveying fundamental technology improvements aiming at making power semiconductor devices more effective at high switching frequency. The latter is of critical importance as the increase of the switching frequency is fundamentally recognized as the way forward to enhance power density conversion. Provided that switching losses must be kept low to enable the miniaturization of the filter components, one primary goal is to cope with semiconductor and system integration technologies enabling fast dynamic operation of ultra-low ON resistance power switches. This justifies the main focus of this thesis work, centered around a comprehensive analysis of the MOSFET switching behavior in the synchronous buck converter. The MOSFETs dynamic operation, far from being well describable with the traditional clamped inductive hard-switching mode, is strongly influenced by a number of frequently ignored linear and nonlinear parasitic elements that must be taken into account in order to fully predict real switching waveforms, understand their dynamics, and most importantly, identify and quantify the related mechanisms leading to heat generation. This will be revealed from in-depth investigations of the switched converter under fast switching speeds and heavy load. Recognizing the key relevance of appropriate modeling tools that support this task, the second focal point of the thesis aims at developing a number of suitable models for the switching analysis of power MOSFETs. Combined with a series of design guidelines and optimization procedures, these models form the basis of a proposed methodological approach, where numerical computations replace the usually enormous experimental effort to elucidate the most effective pathways towards reducing power losses. This gives rise to the concept referred to as virtual design loop, which is successfully applied to the development of a new power MOSFET technology offering outstanding dynamic and static performance characteristics. From a system perspective, the limits of the power density conversion will be explored for this and other emerging technologies that promise to open up a new paradigm in power integration capabilities.
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