Drop in replacement power factor correction chip IRS2500 from International Rectifier. Link here (PDF)
Many offline applications require power factor correction circuitry in order to minimize transmission line losses and stress on electrical generators and transformers created by high harmonic content and phase shift. Appliances often incorporate switching power supplies (SMPS) which include capacitive filter circuitry followed by a bridge rectifier and bulk capacitor supplying a load. Without power factor correction circuitry a SMPS draws a high peak current close to the line voltage peak and almost no current over much of the cycle, resulting in a power factor of around 0.5 and a high total harmonic distortion. Power factor correction circuitry is added which enables the appliance to draw a sinusoidal current from the AC line with negligible phase shift and very low harmonic distortion. This allows optimization of the load seen by the power grid such that power can be supplied without creating additional conductive losses in transmission lines or additional burden on transformers and generators. Costs to electricity providers are therefore reduced, which are hopefully passed on to the consumer.