Brickless laptop chargers ahoy

Transphorm, a startup backed by Google (among others) has a cool-sounding gallium nitride technology to improve AC/DC transformers. They say they might be able to completely eliminate laptop charging bricks while vastly increasing energy efficiency. (via Cmdln)


  1. Umm, not to be an asshat here, but I think this article is missing all the technical stuff.

    I’m going out on a limb here and assume what they have done is come with a new way to build the switching FET’s in a standard SMPS design. Which, depending on the amount of power you are converting can eat up a pretty chunk (and turn it directly into heat).

    It’s either that, or they have some new type of inductor system, but with the given frequencies most of the SMPS designs run at now you usually don’t loose that much in the inductor unless you are dealing with really high currents.

    I don’t think you’ll ever get rid of the laptop power brick. (PERHAPS if there was a standard for these things then progress could be made, but when someone like Dell has about 15 different ones for all their laptops..then yeah.)

  2. Increased energy efficiency? Call me cynical, but the energy Powers-That-Be will never allow this. They’d prefer a technology that requires you to pour oil directly into your laptop.

  3. They can remove the AC adapters, but I’m not really looking forward to having a thick 18/3 power cable running from the wall to my laptop.

  4. Google better make sure this shit doesn’t get locked behind a stupidly high-tolled patent paywall, else it’d be a damn shame that such good technology is kept out of the hands of commoners.

  5. They claim 10% energy loss in current power supplies. I think that’s pretty optimistic. Most cheap wall warts don’t do much better than 50-60%, and low-end switchers aren’t much better.

    But what really gets me is the claim that they can eliminate 90% of this just by replacing silicon-based semiconductors with GAS-based ones. That doesn’t pass the sniff test. There are too many other lossy components in power supplies, including the transformers and/or inductors.

    Now, if they claimed they could cut losses *in the semiconductors* by 90%, I’d still be skeptical, but I’d be willing to say “show me.” As it is, I dismiss this 90% as PR hype.

    BTW, in a completely unrelated matter, today BB is consistently crashing my browser (and sometimes my system) when I try to view it with Javascript off. With JS on, all is fine. Weird.

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