An Introduction to the Key Elements of Using Power Inductors in CPU/GPU Chips : Application of VRM Voltage Regulator Module-Specific Vcore Power Inductors.
Inflation continued to affect end consumer demand, and graphics card and motherboard manufacturers adjusted their inventory throughout the second half of 2022, resulting in weaker shipping momentum. However, with the easing of the pandemic and the stabilization of the economy in the previous quarter, coupled with the launch of new products by chipmakers, it is expected that graphics card and motherboard manufacturers will have a chance to rebound in the first half of 2023 as inventory is reduced.
In recent years, graphics card and motherboard manufacturers have been applied to an increasingly diverse range of intelligent terminal products, leading to a focus on low impedance and high efficiency in the trend of using on-board power inductors to improve performance, reduce size, lower costs, and improve reliability. At the same time, the continuous evolution of artificial intelligence has resulted in a significant increase in demand for deep learning GPU algorithms with higher efficiency performance in the market. As a result, power inductor manufacturers or suppliers rely on innovative production and manufacturing technology to develop new series of power inductor components that can meet such high specification requirements. The following are two major points to analyze the two main essential points that graphics card manufacturers evaluate and adopt when designing power inductors.
1. Miniaturization & Low Inductance : The trend towards miniaturization and low inductance in graphics card design has been around for years, but in recent years, the design requirements have become increasingly high-end and strict. For example, the inductance value used in the design of the inductor has gradually changed from the original 0.120.1uh to 7080nh. To meet such requirements, Arlitech Electronic has introduced advanced heat-pressed inductor technology combined with continuously improved magnetic core materials. Other inductor suppliers also commonly use materials such as nanocrystals or non-conventional iron powder copper cores, which have higher magnetic permeability and lower magnetic core loss compared to traditional inductor manufacturing materials. In addition, Arlitech Electronics’ innovative winding technologies, such as flat winding or multilayer winding, can achieve higher inductance density in a smaller volume. Surface mount technology (SMT) packaging solutions are used to achieve a more compact design.
2. High Performance & Low Loss : High-speed conversion efficiency is another key indicator of the performance requirements for the inductor components used in high-end graphics chips. The power inductor plays a critical role in ensuring that the GPU receives the correct voltage. High-performance power inductors typically have lower direct current resistance (DCR) and higher current handling capabilities, resulting in better voltage regulation and higher efficiency. In addition to achieving green environmental requirements and reducing power consumption costs through efficient DC/DC conversion efficiency, Arlitech Electronics’ inductors also use advanced magnetic core materials and innovative winding technologies to improve power inductor stability and reduce magnetic core loss, further enhancing inductor performance and reducing its consumption.
From the above, we can see that miniaturization, low inductance, high performance, and low losses are several important specification indicators for the latest graphics cards/boards' adoption of power inductors design. However, besides these two points, the latest graphics cards' efficiency requirements for using power inductors actually include several other key points that must also be considered together:
1. Low Cost : The trend of using low-cost power inductors in graphics card design was initially driven by the forced impact of reducing the overall system cost. Therefore, to achieve this goal, power inductor manufacturers such as Arlitech Electronic must use innovative materials, new manufacturing processes, and packaging methods to introduce solutions to reduce component production costs. For example, using low-resistance copper wire and wire cores to reduce material costs or using automation and surface mounting technology (SMT) in the factory's manufacturing process, which can simultaneously improve production efficiency and reduce unit production costs.
2. High reliability : Reliability is a hidden key factor affecting the performance of graphics cards, as any problem with the VRM core protection components can lead to GPU core chip failure. In order to improve reliability, the product testing of power inductor manufacturers like Arlitech Electronic must comply with strict standards, such as those established by JEDEC or IPC. Today's exhibition technology also needs to use innovative materials and processes, such as chemical nickel plating, immersion gold (ENIG) plating, or wire bonding, to improve the reliability of power inductors, which are passive components. In addition, using packaging methods such as metal composite films (MCF) or ceramics, which are resistant to high temperatures and highly reliable, can also help protect power inductors and maintain high-efficiency performance in harsh environmental conditions.
Overall, the demand from terminal system manufacturers to reduce system costs and improve reliability has driven the requirements for both of these indicators to be raised in the design of graphics card power inductors. Arlitech Electronics’ power inductor series products focus on meeting the product design needs of graphics card and circuit board customers by conducting professional analysis on each of the indicators required by customers, using a combination of new materials, improved production processes, packaging methods, and other means. With the changing trends in the technology industry and market, Arlitech Electronics’ power inductors have the potential to enter and establish a foothold in the supply chain for high-end graphics cards and AI deep learning customers.