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Posted on 07 October 2019

Bus Bar and the High Power Card Edge (HPCE®) Family

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Power Solutions for Today’s Leading Technologies

Power connectors and conductors are akin to the blood vessels of electronics - they are essential in bringing technologies to life and indispensable to all electronic designs. In order for electronic devices to function, whether it’s simple or complex power distributions, they will need a network of power solutions that are able to provide predictable, repeatable and reliable electrical performance. In addition to these basic requirements, power products also need to be compact, robust, cost effective and modular as engineers across all sectors strive to create smaller, cheaper and more scalable equipment and devices.

By Yu Dong, FCI Portfolio Director for Power Solutions

Given the demands of the ever-evolving power connected world, it is increasingly critical for electronic design engineers to understand the characteristics of the different power connector and conductor categories. This enables them to identify the power solutions that are optimal for their designs and at the same time meet the stringent mechanical requirements for varying applications.

Bus Bars - The Ideal Power Conductor for IT and Renewable Energy Technologies

A bus bar is an electrical conductor made of several layers of stamped and formed copper sheet. Each layer is individually insulated so that the bar can distribute current, AC or DC, at different voltages. Its superior performance and ability to reduce design complexity production cost make them the ideal power solutions across many rapidly growing technology sectors, such as IT and renewable energy.

BusBar

Cabinets

One of the major applications that uses bus bar solutions are IT cabinets, including transmission cabinets and data storage system cabinets, as they are superior and a more cost effective replacement as compared to cables. This is because laminated bus bar conductors are made of wide, thin copper sheet which allows it to dissipate heat more efficiently than circular cables. This critical geometric characteristic allows bus bar to carry more current than cables for a given cross section and enables them to support the latest data and transmission applications.

The bus bars are also neater, more elegant and easier to install than the cumbersome “daisy chain” harness for cables. The cleaner designs enable shorter time-to-market cycles and easier control and maintenance to ensure the uptime of the apparatus in the cabinets.

Backplanes, PCBs and Motherboards

Laminated bus bar solutions are also commonly used to replace traces and power layers on backplanes, PCBs and motherboards. Bus bars are capable of carrying much more current than that of a normal trace and engineers usually replace trace on a PCB by fastened or soldered the bus bar conductors to it to act as a solder trace.

For conventional backplanes, the distribution of high current on a backplane (>100A) is usually costly because of the additional and usually thick copper layers required. With a large current capacity, a bus bar mounted to the backplane can easily replace the costly power layers without undermining the performance of the backplane.

Beyond the IT Sector - Renewable Energy Generators and Electrical Mobility

Besides the IT sector, bus bars are also commonly used in many of today’s leading renewable energy applications. In decentralized energy generation systems, such as solar or wind generators systems, the bus bar serves as a key platform for power semiconductor devices used in power inverter and converter. Power converters enable the connection of an individual energy generation system to the electric grid and ensure high quality of grid voltage and frequency. In addition, with working voltages up to 4kV, low impedance and inductance as well as and large capacitance, these power solutions are optimal for renewable energy generators.

In the rapidly evolving automotive world, electrical transportation is fast becoming the alternative technology of choice for passenger vehicles as well as light delivery vehicles. Needless to say, the need for reliable current distribution is paramount to both performance as well as safety. That is where bus bars come in. Coupled together with their inherent ability to generate less voltage loss compared to traditional wire cabling, optimize space, as well as provide long term reliability in harsh environmental conditions, it is no wonder that bus bars have found their place in today’s most advanced hybrid and electrical vehicles.

The bus bars’ advanced thermal and electrical performance as well as its ability to optimize space, reduce cost, and accelerate time to market, make these components valuable assets to support existing IT, renewable energy and e-mobility applications. In addition, its advanced design and versatility will also provide engineers with the foundation to design the next generation of equipment and devices.

The HPCE ® Family – Compact, Low Profile Power Interconnect Solutions

Space constraint is one major concern that most engineers face when it comes to designing networking or server equipments. Often needing to fully utilize every spare inch within the rack, the components that go into the build needs to not only be efficient and reliable, but also compact as well. The newly introduced HPCE® Family, which includes the High Power CardEdge Connector, the Board-To-Board (BTB) Connectors as well as Cable Assemblies, provides all that. With a profile height of just under 7.5mm, these components not only save space, but improve electrical performance as well because of their better heat dissipation. What’s more, these performance benefits do not compromise to the current carrying capability of the HPCE® Family. The innovative contact geometry design, coupled with advanced material and plating methods ensure that the parts are able to perform at the current density of up to 200A/inch.

HPCE High Power CardEdge Connector

This series of products are forecasted to continuing growing. This is attributed to 1U and 2U chassis-based systems are doubling-up, and also the market’s demand for more compact that components that restrict less airflow, allowing for better cooling of the overall system.

Servers and Data Storage Equipment

Aimed at server and storage power supply applications where current density, power efficiency and airflow are key design considerations, the HPCE® Family offers a compact and highly ventilated housing design that enhances heat dissipation. These features are critical in servers and data storage applications as it helps to prevent overheating, thus increasing the availability and reliability of these equipment. This also helps to reduce the amount of cooling needed for the equipments, which in turn helps to increase the energy efficiency of the server and data storage system.

HPCE® connector provides increased linear current density and is able to support 9A power contact beam without exceeding a 30°C temperature rise in still air. This characteristic is a significant 30% improvement over conventional PCE solutions. In addition, these solutions offer the highest current density and lowest contact resistance, which reduce power loss through the connector, in the PCE market. All these factors are critical considerations for IT engineers when assessing power connectors for their equipment designs. What’s more, the single-piece HPCE® offers a cost effective alternative to the two-piece (receptacle mating to plug) solution, giving engineers the opportunity to lower cost by using a cheaper, albeit less robust, one piece solution.

The HPCE® BTB connector utilizes a mainstream two-piece design. The right angle header is readily available to mate to the right angle or vertical receptacle, allowing design flexibility in various data storage system architectures. A low profile height maximizes airflow efficiencies for effective system cooling and integrated guide features make it ideal for blind mating applications.

The HPCE® cable, on the other hand, is widely adopted in many server and data storage applications. They provide more flexibility for high power (20-40A), mid/low power (10-20A & 5-10A) and signal requirement, making it an integrated solution in servers and data storage equipment. HPCE® cables also allow flexible configurations to cater to different designs and mechanical requirements. They are able to provide a maximum 13 terminals for high power cables, 16 terminals for mid power cables, and 38 terminals for low power and signal cables. IT engineers will be able to customize and find the most optimal power cable solution for a wide spectrum of IT applications and equipment designs. Like its connector version, HPCE® cables also have both one-piece (mating to gold finger) and two piece solution (mating to right angle or vertical header).

HPCE cable assemblies

The wide and versatile HPCE® Family solutions offer engineers with unparalleled electrical performance as well as capabilities to improve airflow and energy efficiency that is previously unseen in the PCE market. This next generation of power connectors also holds the potential to improve the existing electronic designs and will act as the catalyst to empower the new innovations across different sectors.

HPCE board-to-board connectors

FCI - A Leading Power Solutions Provider for Leading Technologies

With almost 30 years of experience in designing and manufacturing power solutions, including bus bar and HPCE® Family, FCI understands the evolving market requirements for power interconnections, and continues to provide innovative and cost-effective power product solutions to address the challenges of increasing power density and facilitating airflow for thermal management.

FCI provides design engineer with a comprehensive suite of bus bar and HPCE® development capability from design, simulation, testing, to manufacturing. This end-to-end suite allows FCI to cater to the unique design requirements and provide the right power solution for different equipment and applications.

If there’s interest in learning more about FCI’s Power Solutions, please visit: www.fci.com/powersolutions

 

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