Helix’s MxC 200 DC-DC power IC increases efficiency at data centers

By Pradeep Chakraborty

Fabless power semiconductor company, Helix Semiconductors, announced that Agility Power Systems (Agility) is using the MxC 200 IC for its innovative, 1kW, high-efficiency 48VDC to 12VDC power converter. Agility designs highly efficient switched capacitor power conversion devices targeted at the data center, solar and electric vehicle markets.

As data storage capacity grows exponentially, as does the need for highly-efficient data center hardware and infrastructure.

Jason Young, president and CEO, Agility Power Systems, said: “Earlier this year, Agility Power Systems used the MuxCapacitor technology to create a 1kW 48V to 12V power converter with 97.6 percent peak efficiency using discrete components. This proof of concept unit was first demonstrated at the Helix Semiconductors booth at APEC in early March.

“Agility is now launching a new smaller, more cost effective and more functional version of that converter by integrating Helix’s MxC200 ASIC into the design in a way that amplifies the benefits of the already industry leading efficiency and power density characteristics of the MxC200.”

How is the MxC 200 DC-DC power IC bringing increased efficiency at data centers?

Bud Courville, VP of Business Development, Helix Semiconductors, said: “Our patented MuxCapacitor technology has a higher peak efficiency and maintains that efficiency across a much greater portion of the load curve when compared to traditional magnetic based power conversion devices used in data centers.
Helix1“This feature creates higher operating efficiency and reduced heat generation across a wider range of applications than traditional power converters. Exact sizing of the power conversion device to the application’s specific load becomes less critical when near peak efficiency is maintained through a wider range.

By how much is the financial benefit by reduced cooling costs due to lower heat generation?

To this, he added: “It depends on the Power Utilization Effectiveness (PUE) of the data center and the cost per watt at each facility. Here is a brief definition and description of the PUE.

“Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is a metric used to determine the energy efficiency of a data center. PUE is determined by dividing the amount of power entering a data center by the power used to run the computer infrastructure within it. PUE is, therefore, expressed as a ratio, with overall efficiency improving as the quotient decreases toward 1.”

PUE was created by members of the Green Grid, an industry group focused on data center energy efficiency. Data center infrastructure efficiency (DCIE) is the reciprocal of PUE and is expressed as a percentage that improves as it approaches 100 percent.
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He said: “While PUE varies from data center to data center, recent studies indicate that the typical data center has an average PUE of around 1.7. This means that for every 1.7 watts in at the utility meter, only one watt is delivered out to the IT load.

“For every watt saved in operating efficiency at the point of load, 1.7 watts worth of energy costs are saved. In a 1kW power conversion device that would mean that an efficiency improvement of 5 percent would equate to a point of load savings of 50 watts and a total energy savings of 85 watts. The cost savings of this reduction in overall energy usage adds up quickly at data centers consuming large amounts of power 24 hours a day.”

How has the bidirectional nature of Helix MuxCapacitor enabled new design configuration?

Courville said: “MuxCapacitor technology can be configured to operate as either a voltage step down or step up device within the same circuit. This makes it ideal for solar, EV and “Prosumer” renewable energy applications where power can be both drawn from or added to the grid or battery storage.”

Finally, what are the other MxC 200’s game-changing features and benefits in large power applications?

Courville said: “There are many features and benefits of the MxC 200 that improve performance in large power usage applications. The most pronounced benefit by far is the significant cost savings that results from improved efficiency both at peak load conditions and across the broader load curve.

“This cost savings comes both from a reduction in power consumed to operate the load and power consumed to temperature control the environment. For a smaller data center facility with a PUE of 2.0, the cost savings is double that of the savings from the reduction in energy consumed to drive the load.

“The power density of the MxC 200 is another key feature. In addition to reducing heat and cost through higher efficiency, the MxC 200 can also reduce the weight and size required for a power conversion device.

“The MxC 200 also has multiple output voltage settings. For Agility’s 48V input device, this feature would allow for output voltages of 24V or 6V in addition to the primary 12V output. The bidirectional nature of MuxCapacitor technology makes it ideal for certain applications.”

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