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Power Technology & Qualification

Why do Power Supplies Fail, and What


can be done about it?
Randy Malik, Rick Fishbune, Tim Daun-Lindberg,
Pat Frank, Eric Swenson, Dale Wilhite,
Charles Dishman, Brian Steenburgh

© 2005 IBM Corporation

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Power Technology & Qualification

Major Causes of Failure


“When power supplies fail, it isn’t because designers choose components
they know will fail; they often have insufficient information about the problems
that result from their choices.”

1. Components
– Semiconductor Devices
– Capacitors - Electrolytic, Ceramic, Poly Film
– Magnetic Components
10
2. Power Supply Construction MOSFET
9 Ceramic
– Spacing on Board PolyP
8 Inductor
– Device Mounting on Heat Sinks
– Placement of Components 7

Failure Rate
6
3. Environment
5
– High Humidity – chemicals
4
– Conductive Metal Parts
3
– Bugs
2
4. Qualification & Testing
1
– HALT Tests
0
– Control and Run Charts

11

13

15

17
1

9
5. Failure Analysis Time (month)
– Root Cause Determination
– Field failure data

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Power Technology & Qualification

MOSFET Construction Analysis


Electrical Components from two suppliers A and B are different. See Construction details

Figure 1 Supplier A: Delaminating between epoxy and lead frame Figure 3 Supplier A: Voids between the die and lead frame (die attach) are found
shown by red color. C-SEM front side as represented by the white dots.

Figure 2 Supplier B No Delaminating . Figure 4 Wire bond Comparison Supplier A and Supplier Bi

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Power Technology & Qualification

MOSFET Failure = f (time)


MOSFET with the Soft Knee, Can’t run with the soft knee for long

Field Intensity 600

500

400 Ids - B
Ids - A
300

Ids
Soft Knee
200

100

0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
500
550
600
650
EPI Layer Crater -100

Vds
Figure 1 : Craters on the EPI layer

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Power Technology & Qualification

MOSFETs from Supplier A and B


If you don’t know whether a component used in a product is robust or
not, how would you expect the product not to fail in the field?

A B A B

Figure 1 Voltage Breakdown (BVdss) Distribution Figure 2 Leakage Current (Idss)

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Power Technology & Qualification

Electrolytic Capacitors
If you believe in plug and play , then learn to pray . Always Use Brand name quality Caps

Good capacitor brands


Rubycon
Nichicon
Panasonic
Sanyo
Nippon
United Chemi

Electrolyte formulation unstable, - hydrogen buildup inside the metal Can and failure in the field

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Power Technology & Qualification

Multilayer Ceramic Capacitors


Cut corners in cost, and then place them near corners, the result is obvious.

Figure 1. the corner of an MLCC, in


cross-section. The red arrows show
the cracked line

Figure 2. Close up of area


denoted by the red box in
figure 1. The crack bridges
between the conductors

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Power Technology & Qualification

Poly-Propylene Capacitors
Who says POLYP Capacitors don’t burn. When they do, they burn spectacularly

Burnt Polyp Capacitor

1. Flattened capacitors rely on heat and temperature to create a consolidated winding. This creates
stresses, particularly at the centre of the winding where the film is forced to fold through 180°.

2. It is difficult to create consistent conditions for flattening, excessive pressure on some winding
and insufficient pressure on others due to film thickness variations.

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Power Technology & Qualification

Magnetic Components
Another Inductor Burnt, WOW! Did we learn anything here?

PFC Choke Burnt …. Two Powder Iron Chokes used in series

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Power Technology & Qualification

Zinc Whiskers and MOSFET Failures


WOW! Zinc Whiskers again! Remember the lessons learned.

Zinc Whisker

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Power Technology & Qualification

Roaches Infestation - Power Supply Failure


One thing is sure, nothing is Bug Proof

Roaches

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Power Technology & Qualification

Best Practices - Power Supply Construction


Good design can help to prevent manufacturing defects and service errors and to
reduce the need for non-value-adding inspection practices.

Heat
Heat Sink
Sink

Electrolytic
Electrolytic Capacitor
Capacitor
G
G D
D SS

PC Transformer
Transformer
PC Window
Window

Inductor
Inductor

Figure 1 Power Supply Component Placement and PC windows

Heat Sink

Bond-Ply
Device 1 Device 2 Device 3

Figure 2 Heat Sink Assembly to mount semiconductor devices with no screws and no clips

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Power Technology & Qualification

PARETO Diagrams
Treating the symptoms is a short term relief, find the root cause and have a long term relief

35
30
25

20
15
10
5

0
MOSFET Choke Driver Ceramic Poly Fan

Figure 1 Failed Components in the field


12

10

0
HVMarginal Bad Device Driver Fail Dust/Metal

Figure 2 Causes of MOSFET Failure

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Power Technology & Qualification

Relative Cost to fix a Problem

1000

100
Relative cost

10

1
Design Assembly Final Test Field
Product Stage

The costs of preventing problems at the design stage are much lower than costs of
correcting problems that occur “ downstream”

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Power Technology & Qualification

Reliability and Learning Curve


Through a process of learning, knowledge is developed.

1200 1200

1000 1000

800 800
Failure rate ppm

Knowledge
600 600
Knowledge
Failure Rate
400 400

200 200

0 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

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Power Technology & Qualification

PPM Defects for a Server Power Supply – Today and in Future


Cost being ($0.08/Watt), Quality will have a definite competitive advantage.

800

700
PPM - today
600 PPM- Future

500
PPM

400

300

200

Competitive Advantage
100

0
11

13

15

17

19

21

23
1

Time - months

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Power Technology & Qualification

“Kaizen” – Journey of Continuous Improvement


Sustaining total quality requires viewing quality efforts as a journey, not an end.

If you can’t find the root


cause of failure, you can not R The purpose of the design review is to
stimulate discussion, raise questions,
prevent it. and generate new ideas and solutions to
RootCause
Root Cause help designers anticipate problems
Design
Design before they occur.
Determination
Determination

D Q
MAN

Ye
0
60

a
Eliminating symptoms of

rs
problems usually provides Procurement
only temporary relief; Fail
Fail Assembly
Assembly
eliminating root cause s & Qualification
provides long-term relief.

W P
System
System FinalTest
Final Test How the data is collected,
analyzed, and to whom it is
presented, and if this does not
go to the right people … What a
S waste of resources?

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