The electronic industry’s biggest show for power electronics starts February 25th in Long Beach. Here are some of this year’s key themes.

Spencer Chin, Senior Editor

February 22, 2024

3 Min Read
Past APEC show.
An exhibit floor scene from a past APEC show. APEC

Once again, the power electronics industry will take center stage at the annual Applied Power Electronics Conference, this year at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif., from February 25th through 29th. The show will once again carry a full slate of educational sessions, technical and panel sessions, keynote presentations, and exhibits covering a broad spectrum of power-related issues.

Here are some interesting threads running through this year’s show:

Power is a Life and Death Issue for Medical

No longer are medical power supplies limited to AC/DC supplies that carry medical approvals. In a kickoff plenary session, Monday titled, “Surgical Energy: Connecting Power Electronics to Patients – Literally!,” Daniel Frierichs, Senior Principal Engineer of Minnestronix Medical, will talk about medical devices where power converter outputs are directly connected to patients to achieve different therapeutic effects and improve lives. These include thermally-based therapies (such as ablation and electrosurgery) and electric field-based therapies (such as pulsed-field ablation and electro-chemotherapy). Dr. Friedrichs will share examples of clinical therapies dependent on power conversion, including correcting heart arrhythmias, ablating tumors, delivering vaccines, and treating genetic disorders. This session will also discuss the unique power electronics challenges that exist in this space, along with future opportunities for power electronics suppliers and designers to accelerate their impact on healthcare.

Power Has a Future in Fusion

Fusion has largely been a scientific R&D effort restricted to national labs and universities. However a recent uptick in investors backing R&D efforts to commercialize fusion suggests that this technology may yet become a reality. In another Monday plenary session,  Zap Energy’s VP of Systems Engineering Matthew C. Thompson and Chief of Staff AJ Kantor will discuss its fusion technology called sheared-flow-stabilized Z pinch. The technology reportedly avoids the enormous, costly, and complex magnets and lasers of other fusion concepts. Still, it does require several first-of-a-kind systems – including 1MA scale, high-average-power repetitive pulsed power units based on durable solid-state switches. The company will describe the electrical power handling requirements of fusion systems in general, the fusion industry landscape, and why power electronics are a critical technology for it to succeed.

AI Needs and Power Management Meet

Not surprisingly, the demands of powering thirsty AI processors will be a topic at this year’s APEC. In this plenary session, Francesco Carobolante, Director of Corporate Strategy & Ventures at Intel, relates the development of integrated voltage regulators as integral to the quest to maximize power efficiency, in light of AI processors approaching 1,000 A and imposing demands on all kinds of chips ranging from traditional logic and memory and optical interfaces. Carobolante will discuss how improving energy efficiency will be key the growth of sustainable advanced computing.

Electric Vehicles, Packaging Also on Agenda

The challenges of powering electrified transportation will also be discussed in a Tuesday, February 27th morning session titled, “Addressing Major Challenges on the Roadmap to Transportation Electrification.”

Power electronics packaging will be discussed in a Wednesday, February 28th morning session titled, “Advances In 3D Packaging for Power Electronics.”

A 1:30 pm session on Thursday, February 29th titled, “Power Solutions for AI Data Center Applications” will address how the industry is addressing the power needs in data centers for AI and machine learning.

EE Students Take Note

While much of APEC is geared to working engineers in the power industry, this year’s show, for the second straight year, will include a student job fair on Tuesday, February 27 from 1:30 to 5:00 pm in the Regency Ballroom ABC of the Hyatt Regency Ballroom, next to the Long Beach Convention Center. You can learn more about the job fair here.

More information on the Applied Power Electronics Conference can be found here.

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News, covering the electronics beat, which includes semiconductors, components, power, embedded systems, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and other related subjects. He is always open to ideas for coverage. Spencer has spent many years covering electronics for brands including Electronic Products, Electronic Buyers News, EE Times, Power Electronics, and electronics360. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him at @spencerchin.

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