Overturning the EU’s De-Facto Ban on 8K Televisions Through New Power Architectures
March 2023 brings in a new piece of European legislation1 that specifies eco-design requirements for electronic displays including televisions. Fundamental to this legislation are energy-related restrictions that the EU believes are critical to achieving a goal of 260 TWh of annual primary energy savings by 2030.
So far, so good. Whether for reasons of environmental sustainability or reduction of operating costs few people would argue against the need to reduce the energy use of our increasingly electrified world. And, with televisions contributing to more than 3% of the EU’s total electricity consumption, a focus on improving the efficiency of these products - as well as other displays including computer monitors and digital signage – is surely no bad thing?
However, the demands of the latest legislation have had the (we assume) unintended consequence of effectively banning from sale all 8K televisions (and potentially some high-end 4K units) as they do not meet the new power efficiency restrictions.
The problem arises because of the legislation’s energy efficiency index (EEI), which is calculated based on screen area and power consumption2. The EEI for varying resolutions is shown in the table below.
|EEImax (resolution of up to 2 138 400 pixels (HD))
|EEImax (resolution of more than 2 138 400 pixels (HD) and up to 8 294 400 pixels (UHD-4k))
|EEImax (resolution of more than 8 294 400 pixels (UHD-4k) and for microLED)
|March 1, 2023
Unfortunately, the power consumption limits on 8K TVs have been set so low that essentially none of these devices will meet the legislation using their existing power supply technology – thus they cannot be sold in the EU.
The reason that this situation has come about is twofold.
Firstly, 8K TVs need much more energy than previous 4K and HD products because the smaller pixels (8K TVs have four times the pixels of a 4K panel for the same area) require much brighter backlighting. A recent article3 in Digital Camera World, for example, cited that when comparing a 4K 65-inch QLED television and an 8K 65-inch QLED from Samsung the 8K model needed almost twice the power of the 4K model. And the datasheet4 for the latest Samsung 75-inch QLED 8K TV suggests that this model’s high dynamic range power consumption is in the region of 319 W.
Secondly, as explained by the 8K Association:
“The limits for displays up to HD and up to UHD were set using verifiable statistics and sound scientific methods. However, the same approach was not possible for displays above UHD and for microLED displays as they have only appeared in-market after the regulation was developed. As a result, the limit for over UHD (8K) and microLED was seemingly arbitrarily set based on UHD display performance.”
Ultimately, there will be many that argue the banning of 8K TVs is no bad thing for the environment and as of December 2022 - and despite lobbying by various interested parties - the EU confirmed that it had no plans to review the legislation. But does that mean we won’t ever see 8K televisions in the 27 member states?
Not necessarily. But what is needed is a radical re-think of the power supply architectures on which these TVs are based and the deployment of next-generation ‘wide bandgap’ semiconductors within these architectures.
Which is where Eggtronic comes in.
Addressing Legislation with New Power Conversion Technologies
Our focus has always been on ‘developing revolutionary power electronics for a better planet’ and we have created a number of new power conversion technologies that can help 8K TV manufacturers address the EEI challenges they face. These technologies deliver the high levels of performance that the display needs at the same time as significantly reducing overall power consumption.
Take, for example, the ClassEgg® advanced power conversion architecture for high-power PFC applications5 that Eggtronic unveiled at CES 2023.
Derived from the traditional boost PFC + LLC resonant power converter, ClassEgg is a patented, Zero Voltage Switching (ZVS) converter implementation that drives down losses in high-power applications. The architecture is controlled by Eggtronic’s EPIC2ACC01, a controller that integrates a boost PFC and an LLC resonant regulator in a single IC.
ClassEgg improves the conventional boost PFC by taking advantage of a proprietary magnetic component to ensure ZVS, lower EMI and reduced component count, offering performance higher than interleaved solutions at the cost of a standard boost PFC.
In addition, ClassEgg offers better performance and lower component count than standard LLC resonant converters, thanks to a patented rectifier and control algorithm that ensures multiple regulated outputs and high efficiency simultaneously.
The result is a ‘combo’ boost PFC + LLC controller that combines simplicity and low bill of materials (BOM) with guaranteed efficient operation across a wide variety of input and output voltages.
While the ClassEgg architecture can be based on conventional silicon semiconductor switching technologies the use of the latest gallium nitride (GaN) wide bandgap ICs further contributes to performance and efficiency improvements. Next-generation GaN technologies, for example, can run up to twenty times faster than legacy silicon while enabling up to three times more power and reducing energy use by as much as 40%.
Deploying ClassEgg in TV Panels
Today, a traditional boost PFC + LLC PSU for TV panels has a global efficiency of 92%. ClassEgg at this level of power, however, can deliver efficiencies greater than 97% from AC input to DC output. At the level of power of a large 8K screen the potential saving can be measured in tens of watts without necessitating and re-design of the TV panel itself.
However, if the Eggtronic PSU is combined with further optimisation of the design of the panel, audio system and firmware then the benefit is increased further.
As an example, let's assume that the TV was requiring 1000 W (to make the calculations easy). Going from 92% (standard PSU) to 97% (Eggtronic) delivers a saving of 56 W. If the designers of the TV are able to save 50W going down to 950W, then the total saving is 50W (from redesigning the panel) + 53W (from the PSU) for a total saving of 103W.
Without a completely new way of engineering flat panel displays it must be accepted that 8K televisions are always going to have much greater power demands than older 4K and UHD models. At the same time, it is clear that the EU sees no need to amend energy efficiency legislation and EEI ratings for displays as it pursues the greater environmental goal of driving down energy use and emissions.
However, this doesn’t mean that all is lost. By replacing conventional power conversion architectures with innovative and ultra-efficient solutions built around the latest advanced controllers and highly integrated GaN semiconductors it is possible to meet the seemingly mutually exclusive goals of delivering higher display power while reducing overall energy use.
The sooner these new architectures are implemented the sooner EU customers will be able to access technologies that allow them to consume much higher definition 8K content with the peace of mind that lower energy use is contributing to environmental sustainability and lower running costs.