Marvell Power Supply Chip Shrinks Power Bricks, Energy Use

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Marvell's launching a new chip for more efficient power supplies that cuts down energy use by automatically adjusting the amount of juice drawn by a computer depending on what it actually needs, slashing waste—it can chop peak energy use by up to 50 percent, according to Marvell.

It also supposedly rolls the functionality of 20 components into the single processor, allowing for the "Honey I Shrunk the Power Brick" magic (by up to a third) at lower costs for OEM manufacturers. When we talked with Hubie Notohamiprodjo, general manager of industrial control and power management, he said we could probably expect products with the new chips to start showing up in a few months.

While we'll see them in desktop and notebook power supplies first—Marvell's hitting them because of the size of computers' carbon footprint and its potential reduction—they could also make their way into flatscreen TVs, portables and other consumer electronics. It was tipped that they're talking to at least one manufacturer now. Even if green tech's not really your bag—or hell, even if it didn't actually save that much power —carrying around a smaller notebook power brick is reason enough for us to give it a thumbs up.

Digital PFC Controllers Smart Technology for Power Supplies

Marvell is the first to market with a DSP-based power factor correction (PFC) controller for AC-DC power supplies that are designed to significantly cut PC energy usage, while also helping to reduce the system's carbon footprint and save on energy bills. By integrating an average of 20 discrete components to build notebook adapters and desktop PC power supplies, Marvell allows OEMs to increase reliability while reducing size and cost.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are more than 10 billion AC-DC power supplies used in computing, telecommunications, and consumer electronics worldwide, an estimated 2.5 billion in the United State alone. More efficient power supply designs could cut U.S. energy usage in half, saving nearly $3 billion and about 24 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Marvell's smart technology for power supplies, the DSP determines the amount of power required for users' applications with mixed-mode technology that optimizes operation throughout the cycle by changing from Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) to Pulse-Frequency Mode (PFM). This keeps the peak current at the lowest level improving energy efficiency, as well as reducing overall system size. The adaptive drive capability of the DSP intelligently adjusts the driving level to the switch; reducing switching loses, while adaptive adjustments also reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) for a wide range of switches. Adaptive current limits are also automatically adjusted for varying current threshold limits worldwide, which adds system protection and reliability.

Marvell® 88EM8011 for Desktop Power Supplies

Desktop power supplies based on Marvell's 88EM8011 technology will deliver more energy efficiency as voltage and current are in-phase, wasting less energy than present technology. The Marvell 88EM8011 reduces Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) to around one percent or less (current technology THD averages 160 percent.)

It is also designed to be EPA Energy Star compliant, which requires that 80 percent of the power consumed is actually used by the PC, as well as 80Plus program compliant. 80 PLUS is an electric utility-funded incentive program to integrate more energy-efficient power supplies into desktop computers and servers.

Marvell 88EM8041 for Notebook Adapters

At half-a-pound in size, Marvell-based notebook adapters are nearly half the size of current adapter technology. Using in-phase voltage and current, these products are more energy efficient with THD at one percent or less. With the Marvell 88EM8041, OEMs can reduce the size and weight by a notebook adaptor up to one-third. With integrated DSP-technology that incorporates an average 20 discrete components, design complexity and manufacturing costs are reduced, while reliability is increased.