Maxim enters digital power market

February 25, 2011 // By Mark LaPedus
Maxim enters digital power market
In a major move, Maxim Integrated Products is entering into the emerging digital power market.

Maxim has rolled out its first chips in the arena, based on the company's new InTune brand digital power technology. The technology is based on "state-space" or "model-predictive" control, as opposed to proportional-integral-derivative (PID) control used by competitors.

In addition to internal R&D efforts, the company also developed the technology through an acquisition. Last August, Maxim quietly acquired L&L, a small firm that was developing and licensing digital control technology based on ''state-space.'' To also help its efforts, Maxim also recently licensed so-called Digital Power Technology (DPT) patents from Power-One Inc.

Maxim is the latest vendor to jump in the digital power market. ADI, Intersil, Linear, Microchip, TI and others are also in the business. IMS Research estimates that while the digital power IC market accounts for less than 10 percent of the total market today, it is growing by an average of 30 percent per year and will amount to over $900 million by 2016.

"The digital power market has entered the mainstream adoption stage of customer acceptance," said Ryan Sanderson, an analyst at IMS. "Some OEMs report that they now have more than 40 different power supplies on a single PCB. It is no longer practical to rely solely on analog power techniques for these designs. Digital power simplifies design, reduces components, and provides flexibility.''

Digital power relies on a digital or discrete time controller for the control loop rather than the traditional analog approach. Digital power management provides OEMs with increased control, efficiency and performance. The early adoptors in digital power are OEMs in networking, telecom and storage, said Jim Templeton, director of business management at Maxim.

Maxim did not provide details of the chips, which are sampling to customers. The announcement mainly revolves around its InTune technology. Maxim ''is not the first'' company in digital power, Templeton told EE Times. So ''we need to be the best.'

Maxim's InTune digital power technology is said to perform

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