Posted on 01 May 2019

Interview on Power Device Technology

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with Alex Lidow, CEO, International Rectifier

By Bodo Arlt, Editor BPSD


Bodo Arlt: What end markets will drive IR for power management technology?

Alex Lidow: IR’s key focus remains on areas where we can bring the greatest power-savings benefit. These are computing, communication, appliances, lighting, and motion control.

Bodo Arlt: What is IR’s position besides the wide range of discretes and ICs?

Alex Lidow: IR is very much applications focused. Our experiences in fast-growing applications show ample opportunities where we are applying our expertise to our customers’ most difficult power-management challenges.

Bodo Arlt: What are the technologies that can offer innovation for leadership?

Alex Lidow: IR’s digital control algorithms, digital control ICs, analog ICs, mixed signal ICs, discrete transistors, and specialized power packaging technologies continue to lead the industry. IR is building on these platforms to meet the needs of evolving applications.

Bodo Arlt: What impact had the sales of your commodities to Vishay?

Alex Lidow: We have a clear strategy and mission within IR to focus on energy savings. The non-focused items we sold to Vishay did not fit our mission. Our focus products grew 31% y/y and contribute well to the IR strategy.

Bodo Arlt: Is power management more in silicon, or is it also part of packaging technology?

Alex Lidow: In power electronics, you must have both—the silicon and the packaging. At today’s currents and switching speeds, the package is part of the circuit.

Bodo Arlt: What makes IR different from traditional IC suppliers?

Alex Lidow: IR practices technology-pull. Rather than determine what a favourite technology can make, we analyze customers’ needs and pull together those technologies necessary to best address them. We are able to drive the best discrete devices with specially designed drivers in specially designed packages. The combination of all these technologies yields a system performance that is better than can be achieved using anybody else’s IC products in our focus applications.

Bodo Arlt: What makes IR different from traditional discrete semiconductor suppliers?

Alex Lidow: IR is in a unique position due to our complete focus on all elements of power management. We are able to drive the best discrete devices with specially designed drivers in specially designed packages. The combination of all these technologies yields a system performance that is better than can be achieved using anybody else’s discrete products.

Bodo Arlt: How much is IR involved in the end customer’s application?

Alex Lidow: IR works to understand our customers’ problems by deploying a technical sales team with the best expertise in the industry. Most commonly, solving our customers’ problems involves developing an understanding of their customers’ problems. An example would be in white goods appliances where we make products for controlling electric motors. Without an understanding of what the end consumer wants, things like faster wash cycles and gentler agitation, we cannot design digital controllers with the right features and functions.

Bodo Arlt: How much is IR involved in automotive applications using the advantage of ICs?

Alex Lidow: The “electronification” of energy-efficient automobiles fits perfectly into IR’s focus. This is particularly true of hybrid-electric vehicles. Their high-voltage power systems fit with IR’s established strengths in high-efficiency motion control.

Bodo Arlt: What will be the future for line voltage and driver technology?

Alex Lidow: While it appears unlikely that the distributed power line voltages will see a significant change in the near future, there are several new application areas which may involve higher bus voltages for inverter and motor drive applications. 600 and 1200 V switches will continue to be the dominant choice for off line motor drive application for the foreseeable future.

Bodo Arlt: Do we expect more monolithic components in power including ICs and switches at line voltage?

Alex Lidow: Packaging technology is developing as quickly as semiconductor technology. Package technologies such as used in DirectFET and iPOWIR products change the equation in power management such that discrete switches integrated with ICs in thermallyefficient multichip packages may be more economical that monolithic power ICs for many years to come.

Bodo Arlt: Do we expect to see more high voltage IC technology in the line voltage range?

Alex Lidow: Absolutely. We are already there. IR’s expertise in analog and mixed signal ICs at 600 and 1200V nodes provide strong foundations for many applications operating off of line voltage.

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

Alex Lidow: We at IR see a myriad of opportunities for our products and this mix of opportunities produce various competitors with not one dominate player.

Bodo Arlt: Thank you, Alex, for your time. We look forward to a successful future for power management.

Alex Lidow: Thanks Bodo.


Alexander Lidow, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer International Rectifier Corporation

Alexander Lidow

Alexander Lidow joined International Rectifier in 1977 as a Research and Development Engineer. Subsequently, he served the Company as Vice President of R&D. He was promoted to Executive Vice President of Manufacturing and Technology in 1985 and served as President of IR’s Electronic Products Division beginning in 1989. He advanced to Executive Vice President of Operations in 1992 and was named to his current position as Chief Executive Officer in March 1995. A co-inventor of the HEXFET ® power MOSFET, Dr. Lidow holds nine patents on power semiconductor technology and has numerous publications on related subjects. Dr. Lidow earned a B.S. degree in Applied Physics from California Institute of Technology in 1975. He received a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University as a Hertz Foundation Fellow. His professional associations include the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Electrochemical Society, and Tau Beta Pi.



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