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The Second Revolution of the uModule®

Roughly 10 years ago, Linear Technology came out with a revolutionary line of products known as uModule. Now known as Power by Linear™ / Analog Devices, uModule devices come complete with power switches & DC/DC controllers, diodes, capacitors, resistors, and magnetics, all in one encapsulated thermally enhanced BGA or LGA package. See image below.

uModules are an excellent offering in a complete power management solution that minimize the need for the engineer to design a system from scratch. They offer proven solutions in reduced board space that have excellent thermal properties. This means that reliability goes up as time to market and cost is reduced. In 2010 these devices were small at 15 mm x 15 mm x 5 mm and had outputs up to 50 amps.

uModules are now going through a second revolution of size shrinkage but increasing performance. The recently released LTM4678 is a single 50 Amp or dual 25 Amp device in a 16 mm x 16 mm package. Coming out in the 3rd quarter of 2018 are two exciting devices. The LTM4688 is a single 60 Amp or dual 30 Amp device in the same 16 mm x 16 mm package, and shortly after that is the LTM4700. This device is a single 100 Amp device or dual 50 Amp device in a small 15 mm x 22 mm x 7.82 mm package. The LTM4700 is close to 90% efficient from 1 Volts to 12 Volts at 100 Amps output with 200 LFM. The LTM4700 can be daisy chained for scaling to more than 500 Amps of output.

One of the first things noticeable about these new uModules are that the devices are not fully encapsulated as the earlier uModules. The reason is simple, it is for heat dissipation. Encapsulated magnetics retain heat and as power outputs continue to increase, so does the potential of heat. With the new packages, the magnetics are not encapsulated so that heat can be dissipated easier with the built-in heatsinks.

The LTM4678, LTM4680 and LTM4700 are just the start of the second revolution in uModule power management devices. Other devices will follow in offering proven solutions, minimizing board space while increasing performance, and decreasing time to market. Potential financial gains can be had for those that incorporate these new uModules in their designs.

References:

1 – https://ez.analog.com/docs/DOC-17873-04-19-micromodules-sip-packagingpdf

2 – http://www.analog.com/en/products/power-management/umodule-regulators/umodule-buck-regulators/ltm4678.html

About this author

Image of Stephen Wegscheid Stephen Wegscheid, Senior Product Manager-Semiconductors at Digi-Key Electronics, specializes in analog/linear electronics, connectivity products, and single-board computers. He has a Master of Science degree from Bemidji State University and over 25 years of experience in design, manufacturing, and distribution. Additionally, he is the holder of a US patent.
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