DC-DC converter VS Voltage regulation module

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by electronis whiz, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. electronis whiz

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2010
    I was looking at some DC-DC converters, i thought of something that seems kind of odd in how these things are named.
    I have seen DC-DC converters in various things, but usually in computer stuff it's called a Voltage regulator module. To my knowledge there basically doing identical things to get same result so why the naming difference then?

    Are these actually the same thing, and just 2 names, or is there some difference in the functioning?
  2. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
  3. AnalogKid

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 1, 2013
    Same thing only different. From a distance, both "convert" DC of one set of characteristics (voltage, current, ripple, regulation, etc.) to DC of another set. For a regulator, usually the output voltge is lower than the input voltage, the current is the same or less, and the regulation and ripple are way better. The classis three-terminal regulator acts as an automatically variable resistor between the source and the load such that the voltage across the load is a constant.

    A DC/DC converter usually has more horsepower. That is, it can step the input voltage up or down, is way more efficient, and often is fully (galvanically) isolated. Yes, it can take a widely-varying input with ripple on it and produce clean DC just like a 3-terminal regulator, but it is more of a constant-power converter device. For example, if the converter is rated for 50 watts, it can tak in 12 V at 5 amps and produce 5 volts at 10 amps. The voltage goes down but the current goes up (minus some for circuit inefficiency).

    It partly is a semantics thing. When I hear DC/DC I think something with a transformer in the middle of it, even though there are tons of "non-isolated DC/DC converter"s on the market. A simple switching buck regulator is not isolated, but is a power converter rathere than a simple regulator.