Our Electronica Interview with Infineon PSS Division President Adam White
In Infineon’s booth in the vast Hall C3 at Electronica 2022, we caught up with Adam White to talk supply chain, sustainability, green energy, and more.
At last week’s Electronica 2022 trade fair in Munich, All About Circuits had a chance to sit down with Adam White, President of Infineon Technologies’ Power and Sensor Systems (PSS) division.
In this article, we share insights from Mr. White on a variety of discussion topics, including sustainability, green energy, the supply chain, power and sensor innovations, and more.
We started our conversation asking Mr. White to talk about the high-level trends impacting Infineon and his group.
Adam White at Electronica 2022. He says that driving decarbonization and driving digitalization are key pillars for Infineon and his division. White is President of Infineon’s Power and Sensor Systems (PSS) division. Image created for All About Circuits at Electronica by Infineon
White says that, for both Infineon and the PSS division, there is a foundation of purpose on two key pillars: driving decarbonization and driving digitalization. “Everything we’re doing will be focused on those two major pillars,” says White. “Of course, they're very tightly coupled together. In the digitalization aspect, if you use sensors, for example, you can sense your environment, then you can turn on and off, for example, air conditioning zones as needed.”
“And then, on the decarbonization side, a huge abundance of our technology capability will be there to ultimately make things more efficient, which can then contribute to less CO2 going into the application,” says White.
White’s remarks struck a chord with us at All About Circuits because almost every conversation we had with companies at Electronica included these themes: sustainability and green energy technology. We asked White to share his perspective on why that’s the case, what it means for Infineon, and why these issues are more front and center than they were even a couple years ago. The growing awareness around climate change and geopolitics are both drivers.
“Yes, I think those issues are becoming more and more relevant now,” says White. “As you know, there is the overall increase in global temperature. But also now, in Europe, everything is more in focus because of the conflict we’re dealing with and the energy crisis.”
With all this in mind, White says that legacy is more important than ever. “Infineon wants to leave a legacy in this area,” he says. “It's a renewed reality that we're in.”
“We genuinely believe we have a lot of technology solutions that can benefit the planet and we want to leave it a better place.”
According to White, these aspects are a source of pride, but are no longer just a luxury. “You can say ‘It’s nice to have.’ But we actually think it's an essential and critical requirement. And we, as the leadership and employees of Infineon, are very proud about those areas of purpose.”
Sustainability and Green Energy
Next, we asked White to dive deeper on the topics of sustainability and green energy, and how they intersect with electronics and computing technologies. With this in mind, he made the connection between the usage of data worldwide.
“This may be an assumption that I have, but I think a lot of humans may not understand that, when they use data, that takes up a huge amount of energy,” says White. “And that data usage is ever growing. To feed that need, there is a significant percentage of the world’s energy forecasted to go into server farms.”
According to forecasts done by market research firm Statista, the total amount of data created, captured, copied, and consumed globally is forecast to increase rapidly. By 2025, global data creation is projected to grow to more than 180 zettabytes, according to Statista.
According to research by Statistica, by 2025, global data creation is projected to grow to more than 180 zettabytes. Image used courtesy of Statista
Chips that enable power management, data transfer, and data communications, all play into this data management world—all of which are part of Infineon PSS’s portfolio. “We have a responsibility to bring in our latest solutions that will make things more efficient here,” says White. “The higher the current, the higher the power. And there's the power density topic we also play into. And then ultimately if we want to reduce the cooling—a lot of energy goes into cooling.”
White says that the need for energy efficiently is really moving front and center. “This is where we are very much driven within this division to really offer leading edge solutions for energy efficiency,” he says. “And, to address the worldwide data usage demand, we see a huge ‘green server’ opportunity moving forward.”
Global Supply Chain Issues
Aside from sustainability, another big topic that was in the air at Electronica was the global supply chain problem, and in particular the semiconductor industry’s part in that story. We asked White how the ongoing supply chain problem for engineers looks from his perspective.
“One of the strengths of Infineon is clearly its footprint of manufacturing,” says White. “We pride ourselves on having scale, which is fantastic, without ever compromising on the quality.” Pointing to recent investment along those lines, White mentioned Infineon’s announcement earlier last week of its plans for the construction of a new fab for 300-millimeter analog/mixed-signal and power semiconductors for about €5 billion.
While that construction is contingent on the public funding to get going, White says it’s an additional signal of Infineon’s commitment to expanding supply.
“[Those plans] show further commitment from us to recognize that we can't be a limiting factor in capacity. We’ve got to enable confidence within the industry. Also, that was the biggest single capex announcement that Infineon has done in its history.”
The new fab, says White, will help in several semiconductor product categories for Infineon, including power ICs, sensors, and power discretes, as well as end-markets such as servers and USB PD. ”In all these areas, a lot of customers are coming to me saying ‘Wow, you guys are serious, you are committed in your future and our future.’ That’s giving us a lot of opportunities to open up new designs and new focus,” he says.
White further points out that existing large capacity and investing in new capacity is not the end of story. “We also have outsourcing manufacturing at the front end and the back end,” he says. “That gives us the ability to have further flexibility.”
Infineon PSS: Innovations in Power
As a final question for White, we asked him to give us an overview of what he sees as the key areas of innovations in the Infineon’s PSS group, which he leads. Asking White to tout specific product lines is almost like asking someone to pick their favorite child, so we asked him to give us the most vivid examples of innovation. We started on the power side.
“On the power side, we’re working with the leaders of the processor companies to add value with our voltage regulators,” says White.”Here, we've got a great innovation moving forward with the requirements for higher currents, higher power, and then of course ultimately better efficiency. And we can address the power density challenges as well.”
For Infineon, voltage regulators have evolved over the years, says White. They started out discrete, then went to integrated power stages. Then the company also recognized that DC-DC power modules were also important. Looking ahead, White says that packaging for power devices is a key focus.
“Now, the next step now is going to be the new proprietary packaging from Infineon that we're working on that we've yet to bring out for the industry. That brings us back to this wonderful topic about supporting energy efficiency as the world consumes more data.”
Infineon PSS: Innovations in Sensors
Looking next at the sensor product side, White describes the group's wide selection of sensors. These include radar sensors, 3D sensors, we have time of flight (ToF) sensors, pressure sensors, and more.
Picking one area to highlight, White points to Infineon PSS Group’s innovation in MEMs technology for silicon microphones. “For that product area, we continue to innovate on the ASIC as well as on the MEMs technology,” says White. “Here, we continue to have leading performance in dB for the noise ratio and that’s something that we'll continue to invest in terms of R&D.”
For MEMs in silicon microphones, White also says that manufacturing investment is critical, so the company is investing there as well.
“Aside from the investment in R&D, there's also a huge investment in manufacturing needed because of the amount of units that you need to drive and support those types of markets.