Int.: Can you tell our readers about Power Integrations, its development, products and market sectors?

Mr. Doug Bailey: Power Integrations, Inc., founded in 1988, was the first company to successfully include high voltage MOSFETs and precision analog circuitry on the same die. Initially the company targeted the high end power supply market, but then saw that what the market really wanted was a very cheap power supply solution. The result was TopSwitch®, the first three terminal integrated power supply controller.

Successive TopSwitch family members (TOPSwitch-HX® was introduced last year) have resulted in increased power capacity and efficiency across all power loads, including no-load and stand-by, conditions which have, in the past, required separate power circuitry to meet stringent energy efficiency regulations. In 1998, Power Integrations went public, largely due to the widespread adoption of TopSwitch by power designers worldwide.

In 2000, President and CEO Balu Balakrishnan read an article by Alan Meiser of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), based within the University of California which discussed the causes of energy waste. The article identified ‘standby power’ -the amount of energy consumed by appliances when switched on, but not performing any function – as a huge and growing problem. A further study by the LBNL of 13 new unoccupied homes in California performed spot metering on all of the builder-installed electrical appliances, both in operating and standby modes. It found that the average power consumption of these unoccupied homes was equal to 800kWh/yr, with about half of the electricity being consumed by equipment in low power modes. The mean low-power consumption (approximately 440kWh/yr) translates to a continuous standby power of about 50W – without anyone living in the house.

Balakrishnan met Meister and shortly afterwards, Power Integrations introduced the TinySwitch® family of ICs - the first to feature the company’s EcoSmart® energy-efficiency technology, and which use energy on a cycle-by-cycle basis, dramatically reducing the amount of energy wasted by electronic devices, especially during no-load and standby operation. Today, TinySwitch is now on its third generation, and is widely used in many applications including cell phone chargers.

Two years ago, Power Integrations refined its TinySwitch concept with the introduction of its PeakSwitch® products, including TinyPeak which targets applications with peak-to-continuous power ratios of up to 3:1, including printers, personal video recorders, audio amplifiers, broadband modems and DC motor drives

Another significant product development began in 2002. The LinkSwitch® product family was the first cost-effective integrated solution designed to replace linear power supplies, also known as "energy vampires". Also introduced in 2002, DPA-Switch® ICs target DC-to-DC applications including distributed power architectures, which are increasingly found in computing, networking and power-over-Ethernet applications.

These and other innovations have earned Power Integrations more than 191 US patents and 89 foreign patents and have positioned Power Integrations as the leader in our market. Power Integrations ICs enable compact, lightweight power supplies that are simpler to design and manufacture, more reliable, and more energy-efficient than those made with competing technologies. Our ICs power a vast range of consumer and industrial electronics - computers, DVD players, TV set-top boxes, cell phone chargers, home appliances, telecom networking equipment, and many others.

Int: Can you describe your competition?

Mr. Doug Bailey: We face competition from three areas.

The linear power supply market is very entrenched, but it is rapidly declining for two reasons. Firstly the price of copper has risen so dramatically that linear power supplies that require heavy transformers are no longer cheaper than switching power supplies. Second, international regulation such as the California Energy Commission, ENERGY STAR and other worldwide mandatory legislation and voluntary codes of practice call for efficiency levels that are unachievable using linear techniques. Effectively, products such as TinySwitch have killed linear devices in many applications.

Secondly, Power Integrations faces competition from companies, who separate the controller and MOSFET functions on different die. This is disadvantageous for three reasons: firstly the sense resistor burns power; secondly, because this approach does not provide good MOSFET control the design is inefficient; and thirdly our integrated design can save space.

We also face competition from one other manufacturer which does offer some integrated products. However, Power Integrations has patented its processes and designs and vigorously defends these patents. A recent judgement found that the competitor had ‘wilfully infringed’ our patents.

Int: What is your perspective concerning market developments?

Mr. Doug Bailey: All markets are being affected by Environmental or Green issues. CEC, ENERGY STAR etc – these and similar worldwide efficiency standards mean that designers will have to consider the efficiency of their product – whether it be watts/page in the case of a printer, watts/screen area for a TV or watts/MIP for a PC. Power Integrations is the leader in no-load and standby (0-30mW) efficiency, and we also enable more power to be delivered from a limited input power budget.

Another market trend is towards lower profile equipment. Recently Power Integrations introduced its TOPSwitch-HX series of AC-DC power conversion ICs in the new eSIP-7C Eco-Single–Inline-Package. This package exhibits a low thermal impedance, equivalent to the traditional, 45 year-old, TO-220, yet stands less than 10mm above the PCB - half the height of the TO-220.

Int: Do you see any interesting emerging market sectors?

Mr. Doug Bailey:  LED lighting is taking off in a big way. Already LEDs are being used in traffic lights, brake lights, area lighting in rooms and for special stadium effects. But many countries are also now legislating against incandescent lightbulbs on the grounds of efficiency, and LEDs are the obvious replacement – they consume much less power and have a vastly superior life. But LEDs require special consideration in the driver circuitry. Power Integrations’ ICs are highly suitable for powering LEDs in any application, and we have a series of Design ideas which provide detailed information on this subject.

White goods, metering and other sectors will also be subject to energy efficiency legislation and again, we have developed Design Ideas to cover these applications. Another driver is quality. Why compromise your piece of high end equipment with a poor power design?

We are delighted to welcome you at our booth A5.507

Douglas Bailey, Vice President of Marketing:

 Mr. Bailey joined Power Integrations in November 2004 as vice president of marketing. Prior to joining PI, Mr. Bailey served as vice president of marketing at ChipX, a structured ASIC company. His earlier experience includes Business Management and Marketing Consultant for Sapiential Prime, Inc.., Director of Sales and Business Unit Manager for 8x8, Inc., application engineering management for IIT, Inc. and design engineering roles with LSI Logic, Inmos, Ltd. and Marconi. Mr. Bailey holds a B.Eng. from the University of Birmingham with a concentration in microelectronics and microwave devices.


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