PC Power & Cooling CTO talks shop

May 3, 2008 | 08:19

Tags: #answers #cto #doug #interview #modular #power #questions #supply

Companies: #ocz

BT: We recently reviewed a 1,500W Thermaltake power supply, but couldn't think of any system that really requires this kind of power in the consumer space. After load testing the unit on a load machine, we tested it using a system with a Core 2 Extreme QX9770 and GeForce 9800 GTX 3-Way SLI and found it only tops out at around 500W at peak.

Even with a dozen hard drives and other peripherals on top the maximum power draw at the wall socket will only be about 800W. We realise you make the ultra high power Turbo-Cool products (we still have the first "1kW" TC in house!) but do you really think there's any need for such extreme power?

DD: We believe our conservatively-rated Turbo-Cool 1200 will run the most demanding systems now and in the future with plenty of power to spare.

BT: ...and if so will you make a higher power PSU than 1,200W?

DD: No, but we have just upgraded the Turbo-Cool 1200 to give it more power where it's needed most, the +12 volt rail. It's now a whopping 100 Amps continuous, up from 90A. (peak +12V is now 115A, up from 100A) What's more, it's all on a SINGLE huge rail – a feature we pioneered when the rest of the industry was building multiple 12 volt rail designs.

BT: Ultra has recently sued many PSU manufacturers for allegedly infringing on its modular PSU patents in the US, was this a consideration in your decision not to make modular PSUs?

PC Power & Cooling CTO talks shop Of Watts, Volts and Plugs...

DD: No. Our decision was based solely on the engineering merits. We had never even heard of Ultra.

BT: At CeBIT this year a few PSUs, like the Cooler Master Ultimate and Corsair HX1000, are now changing their design to use DC-DC converters for 3.3V and 5V. After talking to the engineers at both companies, they seem to prefer this method because it increases efficiency (both claim 85 to 88 percent) and means they only have to concentrate on 12V AC-DC converters. What does PC Power & Cooling think about this approach?

DD: We agree with this approach. In fact, we've been doing it for a year now with our Turbo-Cool 1200. Our recently introduced Turbo-Cool 860 is also based on DC-DC for 3.3V and 5V.

PC Power & Cooling CTO talks shop Of Watts, Volts and Plugs...

BT: What do you think of Nvidia's ESA scheme?

DD: We think it's a very useful diagnostic tool – it’s also interesting and fun feedback for enthusiasts.

BT: We've seen you're going to make a Turbo-Cool 1,200W ESA power supply, but what about a mainstream Silencer unit with ESA?

DD: The Turbo-Cool 1200 ESA is currently available. We plan to make a mid range PSU with ESA soon.

BT: Can we look forward to anything new at Computex this year?

DD: Yes. Sorry, but we can't pre-announce it.

BT: bit-tech has been historically geared toward PC modding and I have to admit we've been very tempted to do a "modularising a PCP&C PSU" (a mainstream Silencer) article for a while.

DD: Actually, we do have a modular design without the normal drawbacks. We may make it a commercial product one day!!!

BT: Really? Can you tell us anymore?

DD: The modular designs we have in mind involve connectors with far more surface area and much more secure fastening than the connectors used by other PSU manufacturers. There'll be no voltage drop or reliability problems like there is with those flimsy, low amperage connectors.

Due to popular demand, we may bring this modular version out soon!

Final Thoughts

Many thanks to Doug for his time and insights – what's clear is PC Power's clear distinction from OCZ, not only in our direct question about the takeover, but also in how Doug refers to "providing assistance" to OCZ with its own power supply range. It's also amusing how he had "never even heard of Ultra" – that kind of says it all, really.

We certainly agree with Doug that PSUs will exceed 90 percent efficiency within a few years, and that DC-DC conversion will become the predominant standard. However we think there's a way to go before the industry solely supports PSUs with only 12V outputs – essentially the ATX spec will need to change completely because it's designed to be backwards compatible so moving this to the motherboard to handle might be cleaner and more efficient, but the onus of responsibility will change and it will also make motherboards cost more. If the market won't accept this and it infringes on profit margins we can see significant resistance to change.

Finally, we're extremely curious to see PC Power's "modular design without the normal drawbacks" – we'll keep you updated on what we can find out about this.
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