Posted on 01 July 2019

Digital Power on its Move

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Interview on Digital Power with Ron Van Dell, CEO and President of Primarion

By Bodo Arlt, Editor BPSD


Bodo Arlt: What end markets will drive digital power management?

Ron Van Dell: The high-end servers and graphic cards are the main products that have started taking advantage of the benefits of digital power. We expect the next area for growth will be data communication with its point-of-load (POL) structures for various voltages to serve.

Bodo Arlt: What is Primarion’s position besides teaming up with LTC?

Ron Van Dell: Linear Technology is the latest strategic partner to offer multiple sourcing for our all-digital-solutions. LTC is focused on our emerging digital POL (Di- POLTM) products. Intersil is our second-source partner for our digital multiphase power solution that changes the landscape of processor power.

BodoArlt: What are the technologies that offer innovation for leadership?

Ron Van Dell: Innovation is based on design. The Primarion controller is a true digital core engine compacted to reach price targets and improve on conventional solutions.

Bodo Arlt: Is it more in silicon, or is it part of smart software for controllers?

Ron Van Dell: We are talking about a more hardwired, state-of-the-art machine that is not a DSP.

Bodo Arlt: What makes Primarion different from traditional analog suppliers?

Ron Van Dell: The true digital controller with the PWM as a digital loop is our main competitive differentiator in comparison to analog solutions.

Bodo Arlt: What makes Primarion different from traditional digital suppliers?

Ron Van Dell: Primarion is not a traditional digital supplier that serves the customer with a standard chipset. We have multiple sources of discretes to combine with our controller to take full advantage of the value of digital technology.

Bodo Arlt: How much is Primarion involved in the digital feedback loop of power converters?

Ron Van Dell: Primarion has a 100-percent digital control loop.

Bodo Arlt: How much is Primarion involved in digitally controlled power conversion?

Ron Van Dell: In the conversion space, we also have a 100-percent digital solution in place.

Bodo Arlt: What will be the target date to introduce the first products?

Ron Van Dell: We introduced the VR products for servers and graphic cards in 2003, with volume ramp-up in 2004. The POL products were introduced in late 2005 and will continue to ramp up throughout 2006.

Bodo Arlt: I have seen during my time as an engineer the conversion from linear to SMPS power supplies. Do you expect a similar transition into the market?

Ron Van Dell: The transition will be somewhat similar, but it is still a PWM conversion. The change takes place inside the controller chip.

Bodo Arlt: Tradition is always resistant to new technology. What is your feeling to overcome this?

Ron Van Dell: We will not see an easy transition for power analog designers. They will feel less comfortable than the DSP designers, who typically have to deal with a lot of programming. They analog designers will prefer to stay in their world, which makes it much easier.

Bodo Arlt: What will be the year that digital power will dominate the market (about 80%)?

Ron Van Dell: The change to digital power will occur at different times in the various application segments. The first change, and one that we are already witnessing, is in servers. Graphic cards will be next, and data communication will take a few years.

Bodo Arlt: Who are your competitors you believe will stimulate the race for leadership?

Ron Van Dell: Volterra is the only competition that is currently shipping product. This product is a closed (proprietary) solution compared to ours, which is open to discretes from multiple vendors.

Bodo Arlt: Are you ready for Electronica in November?

Ron Van Dell: We want to attend focused shows that directly target our power design audience. Electronica may be too broad a platform for Primarion, but we plan to have a presence at several power industry events in the coming months.

Bodo Arlt: Thank you, Ron, for your time and we look forward to a successful future for digital power.


Van Dell has also held previous international management positions in the U.S. and in Europe at Groupe Schneider, Square D Company and General Electric. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Synaptics, Inc.

Van Dell earned a BS with honors in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Technological University. He is a member of the MTU President’s Club and serves on the Industrial Advisory Board for the College of Engineering at MTU.


Ron Van Dell, CEO and President, Primarion

Ron Van Dell, CEO & President, Primarion

Ron Van Dell, CEO and president of Primarion, Corp., joined the company in 2004 from Legerity, a privately held communications semiconductor company with about $100M in annual sales, where he served as President and CEO. During his tenure, the company overcame the worst-ever downturn in its primary market to become the clear world leader in chipsets for wire line voice access -- positioned to dominate the transition from traditional telephony to VoIP.

Previously, Van Dell served as GM for Dell Computer’s Dimension product line with responsibility for worldwide home and small business desktop PCs. Under his leadership, the Dimension line grew at twice the overall market rate, exceeding $6 billion in annual sales, and became a cornerstone of Dell’s aggressive international expansion.

At Harris Semiconductor (now Intersil Corporation) as VP-GM of the Communication Products Business, Van Dell provided the leadership for establishing the IEEE 802.11b standard, as well as for the rise of PRISM chipsets to a dominant position within the high-speed wireless LAN marketplace. In an earlier role as VP-GM of Worldwide Marketing and Sales, he focused on major growth in discrete power and power management.



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