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Differences, advantages and disadvantages between DC-DC converter modules and discrete designs

TECHNOLOGY

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Differences, advantages and disadvantages between DC-DC converter modules and discrete designs

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Application help
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Release time:
2019/02/14
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Almost all electronic products require a power converter solution to convert between different voltage inputs and outputs. The new power converter solution is highly integrated and can significantly reduce product design time.
 
High-efficiency DC-DC converter modules make design leaner and less expensive
 
When you are designing an electronic product, you always need to think first. Do you want to design your own power converter or buy a ready-made module? For DC-DC converters, specific dimensions, power consumption, isolation, safety, EMC, and electrical performance must be selected, and factors such as inventory and time-to-market are considered. Decision making is often difficult. However, with the introduction of many low-cost power modules, this problem is no longer so difficult to determine, because there are already many highly integrated power conversion modules on the market that can provide better power conversion and lower your the cost of.
 
In high-power applications, such as to achieve 600W power, you usually choose to buy off-the-shelf power modules, because it is impractical to add large power modules to the motherboard. But in low-power applications like 1W, many use simple isolated converters and can power isolated data interfaces or generate low-power "points" for analog circuits (such as -5 V) on an op amp rail. Voltage, these converters can be purchased from reputable sources and are available with surface mount or through-hole modules for about $2. However, many users believe that they can design and implement converters with lower total cost and through basic theory and device application notes.
 
In fact, it is not just a cost comparison between buying a module and a discrete design BOM, and there are many hidden costs that need to be calculated. For example, if we want to implement a 1W isolated converter with ten discrete components, the direct cost includes the need to place and inspect 10 components, and the relative cost of processing one component, on the other hand. To purchase 10 components, you may need to pass five manufacturers (including professional magnetic materials), and the module only needs to face one supplier. In addition, 10 components may have 8 different component types, so it is also necessary to store them, check, inventory, and pick them up. It is relatively simple to use only one module.
 
On the other hand, there are some indirect costs that need to be calculated, such as the cost of the circuit area. When using a discrete design, the motherboard is unlikely to be smaller. The surface mount module with embedded magnetism can make the volume smaller. Modules can have professional power circuit design and reduce the overhead of product certification, as well as the PCB design of the module, reducing the time spent on engineering and the cost of design support. If a safety agency certification is required, there will be ongoing certification and inspection costs, with multiple suppliers to supply, as well as regulatory, quality assurance and control requirements. Modules can avoid these problems.
 
If transformers and other magnetic components are to be designed and manufactured by themselves, all of the above considerations must be repeated, including the preparation of multiple wire types and gauges, insulation, hardware and cores. For example, if the transformer has more than six windings with a wire diameter of less than 0.07 mm and a core diameter of 4 mm, specialized techniques and equipment are required. Of course, you can also purchase magnetic parts directly, but the price is as expensive as the entire DC-DC module.
 
All of these costs and associated overheads and time lags can be avoided by purchasing proven, reliable modules, and can also save on “opportunity costs,” allowing your company to focus on its core business and focus on others. Valuable places to get products to market faster and sell earlier.
 
The latest low-cost products have emerged on the market and have significant performance improvements over previous products. For example, the FD series from Aipu offers the added benefit of patent-pending embedded magnetic materials that provide better performance and lower cost than typical discrete or competitor components. The NXE series is packaged in Murata's proprietary "Detectable Planar Grid Array" (iLGA) package and is pin compatible with 1 W industry standard packages, enabling existing users of DC-DC converter modules to upgrade and implement them. Advantage.
 
These ultra-compact converters are only 12.7 x 10.4 x 4.8 mm, which is more than 30% lower than the industry standard of 7 mm height, even for designs with minimal space constraints. In addition, unlike other isolated surface mount DC/DC converters available on the market, the NXE Series offers the advantages of automated process manufacturing, greatly improved overall product reliability, and consistent performance characteristics with industry The standard pin-compatible package makes this family of products an alternative to existing designs and ideal for new compact applications.
 
In the past, the decision to "manufacture or purchase" a DC-DC converter was often hesitant, because there are quite a few factors to consider, and today's new generation of low-cost modules can meet more low-power applications. If you are making a choice between "manufacturing or buying" DC-DC converters, take a look at Aipu's FD series solutions.
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