Intersil: Benefiting from focus on power

July 27, 2016 // By Nick Flaherty
Nick Flaherty talks to Mark Downing, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Infrastructure and Industrial Power Products, and Philip Chesley, Senior Vice President for Precision Products at Intersil (Milpitas, CA), about the direction of the company.

“Intersil’s history in power is long and deep,” says Mark Downing, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Intersil (pictured above). “In the mid ‘90s, we provided Intel’s VRM multiphase solutions for high current loads for processors and over the years the company has refined its IP and performance in that space serving everything from desktops and notebooks and now for servers.”

This multiphase technology has proven key for areas as diverse as automotive power and data centre systems and the results of previous investments are starting to emerge.

“Three years ago we looked at the businesses and saw the key was in power management, so the decision was to focus around that (apart from automotive and radiation hard, but even in those markets we have a strong focus) so we doubled down on power and we are just now starting to reap the benefits of that decision,” he said.

“We’d seen this continual trend in power towards higher power density and if you put it in context of the load, whether a processor, an ASIC, FPGA or embedded SoC, what you are seeing is many more voltage rails. This puts a premium on being able to power those chips in the smallest possible space. That’s one trend that we saw and based on that we increased our investment in power modules because we saw a need for power density and ease of use. These days customers don’t have time to design power systems and in many cases don’t have the expertise and they are under pressure to deliver a solution quickly.”

This creates a competitive tension with the open frame power supply makers as the semiconductor companies take on more of the module market using IC packaging techniques.

“Companies like Intersil and our competitors have taken on the task of taking the controller, driver, FET, inductor and some of the passives and integrating those into an IC package, so