Posted on 01 August 2019

Interview on Power Management

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with Dave Bell, President and COO Intersil

By Bodo Arlt, Editor BPS


Bodo Arlt: What end markets will drive Intersil power management growth?

Dave Bell: Much of Intersil’s power management growth comes from its dominant position in the computing power market. This technological leadership is directly applicable to processor power requirements in a growing number of automotive, communications and industrial applications. We see broad growth in these sectors as well as continued expansion in our computing and consumer products.

Bodo Arlt: What is Intersil’s position besides the wide range of ICs?

Dave Bell: In almost every end-market, we bring unique leadership positions. Intersil’s computing power business has been the market leader in motherboard power management for seven years and has more recently emerged as the market leader for notebook core power as well. And, in the industrial and communications power markets, Intersil delivers complete telecom/datacom base station solutions, from bus converters, FET controllers, voltage sequencers and voltage monitors.

Bodo Arlt: What are the technologies in which Intersil offers innovation leadership?

Dave Bell: Intersil’s latest generation of computing power PWMs utilize our newest architecture to deliver the industry’s fastest transient response. Our patented R3 TechnologyTM, which stands for Robust Ripple Regulation, monitors a transient current and then adjusts the switching frequency accordingly. We will also will be leveraging this technology across a wider range of power management ICs, including powering processors for the automotive market.

Bodo Arlt: What impact will digital power have?

Dave Bell: The impact of digital power will be in greater programmability and system telemetry, which is the ability to read back parameters such as power consumption and temperature. This diagnostic functionality will greatly increase the reliability and performance of products, which is why Intersil’s first offerings in digital power will be geared toward the high-end computing and infrastructure markets. This is a market where the power efficiency and enhanced telemetry provide an immediate technological advantage.

Bodo Arlt: Is power management more in silicon, or is it also part software design?

Dave Bell: There are really three elements to power management: the actual silicon design and manufacturing processes, the power converter architectures which can be analog or digital, and then the software design that runs at the system level. This system level software allows the end designer more programmability and enhanced telemetry. Intersil is a proven leader in chip level design and processes as well as power system architectures.

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

Dave Bell: One key differentiator is our unique manufacturing structure. Intersil uses a “fab light” strategy which has two key benefits: accelerated introduction of new fab processes through foundry partnerships, and the continued use of unique, proprietary processes in internal fabs. Intersil’s internal fabs run specialized analog processes that cannot be obtained from external foundries.

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

Dave Bell: There is a gap emerging within the electronics industry due to the fact that analog solutions are growing more complex and there are fewer experienced analog engineers. Because of this, our Field Application Engineers play an increasing role in helping our customers understand their systems. Our FAEs are essential in helping our customers get their products to market quickly. Because of our many years as a leading application specific IC supplier, we can take on this responsibility and commit to meeting our customers’ needs.

Bodo Arlt: How much is Intersil involved in ICs for automotive applications?

Dave Bell: This has become a focus market for Intersil. With the increase in infotainment electronics, Intersil will be an even bigger player in both analog mixed signal and power management applications. Intersil is a proven leader in high-reliability ICs for military and space, and we’re now leveraging that expertise and company culture for automotive products. As a sign of our commitment, Intersil has created an entire business unit to specifically address the development and marketing needs of the automotive industry.

Bodo Arlt: What will be the future for LED driver technology?

Dave Bell: Intersil has established a leadership position in white LED backlighting drivers for notebook computers and displays. These products are directly applicable to the LED lighting solutions in automobiles, including lighting for navigation displays, heads up displays, instrument cluster displays and internal/external lighting systems. Apart from the automotive market, this leadership position will help Intersil capitalize across the board as the desire to eliminate CCFL heavy metals expands white LED usage in notebooks, monitors and TVs.

Bodo Arlt: Do we expect only monolithic components in power management?

Dave Bell: We anticipate that in the future, finer line-width processes will enable higher current monolithic solutions that will reduce the size and complexity of ICs. This, in turn, will enable the creation of higher current and high voltage monolithic power management products. We also expect module level solutions to become more popular, utilizing both integrated functions and discrete components.

Bodo Arlt: Do we expect to see more digital power IC technology from Intersil?

Dave Bell: Intersil will utilize digital power where it makes practical sense for our customers. Given the current technology, digital power brings little benefit to handheld consumer products. This is why our first offering will be specifically geared for the datacom/telecom infrastructure market where the slight increase in efficiency along with enhanced telemetry will deliver cost savings and improved reliability. The ISL8601 will be the first IC to combine a PMBus compliant digital interface with the performance of an analog control loop. Intersil will continue to focus on devices that offer immediate market impact and improved functionality.

Bodo Arlt: Which of your competitors do you believe will stimulate the race for leadership in digital power?

Dave Bell: It is not surprising that all of the top power management companies will invest in digital power research and development. However, we believe that Intersil’s unique process capability, along with its superior analog power architecture knowledge, will enable us to emerge as a top performer in these technologies.

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


David B. Bell

David B. Bell

President, Chief Operating Officer, and Director, Intersil Corporation

Mr. Bell was named President, Chief Operating Officer, and Director of the Company in April 2007. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Bell spent 12 years with Linear Technology Corporation (“LTC”), most recently, from June 2003 to January 2007, as its President. Prior to becoming President of LTC, from January 2002 to June 2003, Mr. Bell served as LTC’s Vice President and General Manager of Power Products and, from February 1999 to January 2002, as LTC’s General Manager of Power Products. From June 1994 to January 1999, he held the position of LTC’s Manager of Strategic Product Development. Mr. Bell has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



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