Differential power processing for DC systems

Pradeep S. Shenoy, Philip T. Krein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper introduces an approach to dc power delivery that reduces power loss by minimizing redundant energy conversion. Existing power distribution techniques tend to increase the number of cascaded conversion stages, which limits overall efficiency. Differential power processing enables independent load regulation, while processing only a small portion of the total load power. Bulk power conversion occurs once. Load voltage domains are connected in series, and differential converters act as controllable current sources to regulate intermediate nodes. This enables independent, low supply voltages, which can reduce system energy consumption, especially in digital circuits and solid-state lighting. Since differential voltage regulators process a fraction of the load power, decreased size, cost, and conversion losses are attainable. Under balanced load conditions, secondary differential converters do not process any power. This paper analyzes several differential power delivery architectures that can be applied to homogenous and heterogeneous loads at various levels: chip, board, blade, etc. A variety of operating conditions for a test system with four series voltage domains are examined in simulation and verified with experimental hardware. Results in a reference application show a 7-8% decrease in input power and 6-7 percentage points increase in overall conversion efficiency as compared to a conventional cascaded approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1795-1806
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Power Electronics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • DC distribution
  • Differential power processing
  • Power delivery architectures
  • Voltage regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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