Aim of the blog
This is quick review of the Texas Instruments WEBENCH Power Architect. I have been using it extensively since the past month at my work to design power pcb for a project. This tool has been helpful in respect that instead of looking for parts manually I was able to given in the project requirements and a solution was presented with the appropriate parts. Later one can further build the analog design on top of it. This really helps when time is short and one cannot really put in much effort in simulations.
The Getting started with Texas Instruments WEBENCH Power Architect
I would suggest to login as it helps you save the design and do rework on it later as well.
- Install the godddamm.... flash player. I had some issues and one has to allow the security certificate (sometimes more than once during the design part). If you are me and have many ad-blockers installed in the browser and at the router side it can be a bit time consuming to get started.
- Watch an online tutorial to get help as the tool is a bit tricky to navigate through in the beginning but it will all make sense later.
Link: https://www.ti.com/design-tools/webench-videos.html (collection of self help needed to get started)
The project with the fpga
A detailed overview of the steps needed to complete an fpga Spartan-3A power tree design has been presented below using the Texas Instruments WEBENCH Power Architect
Setting up the TI Webench for fpga power architecture design
- After chosing the fpga configure your power sources and load such as DDR loads, XC3S50A_Vcco, XC3S50A_Vccint
- There is also an option to add any extra loads to the rails
Configure the fpga Loads
- Using advanced options to fix the parts if they need to be automotive complaint or your official list of suppliers are there. This helped me to select only parts which are currently in stock. Also since my design is limited by part size it was helpful to limit them early on in the design phase.
Additional tuning the suppliers and compliances
- A quick view how the Optimizer Dial works and its trade offs.
- An initial estimate of the components is presented. Here I have further re-tuned the for higher efficiency as cost is not an issue in a prototype project. Hovering over the supply rail gives a good idea of the power dissipation and efficiancy for each device.
Re-tuning the circuit for higher efficiency
- There is also an option to add the loads later on in the design which I have often used. Here I have added extra loads namely load 2 test and test load1 to the design.
Add New loads a later stage
Comparison between other available power components/parts
- A detailed view of the power dissipation and footprint to compare between the parts of the power rails.
A quick overview of the design with schematics
Power Supplies in-depth view
Once the top level design is finished by clicking the Power supplies button one can directly jump into the deep specifics of each device individually. Now here the real fun starts.. to check the efficiency simulations and deep dive into the schematics design for each power stage is of importance.
WEBTHERM Simulations Overview
This simulation view allows you to select the pcb board copper weight which can be taken from your pcb manufacturer thus bringing the design closer to the real PCB. A difference in copper weight can also also effect the thermal properties of the pcbs.
Looking into WEBTHERM Simulations
An initial 3d view estimate of the pcb
One can also do different simulations on the design itself (startup, steady state, input and load transient).
A completed simulation look this below. Different probing options for Vcomp, Iin, Iinductor I have also used to understand the design. eSim reports are useful if you want to present the results. I have attached the eSim report for this design below.
CAD and Simulation Export
At the end of the project one can also export the simulations to TINA TI for offline analysis. With so many CAD tools in the market, I also exported my design for the Mentor Designer but there are other options for Altium, Allergo etc.
In short the TI WEBENCH designer is a powerful tool and will help analog designers to streamline the design process.
It allows for a quick selection of the parts from the TI catalog.
The tool provides all options that one needs to start with the pcb schematics and reduces the simulation times for components.
The tool allows also sharing of the project between multiple designers and generate reports as well.
From a top system level, it gives a holistic view of the loads and power rails involved in the complete design.
From my experience in the last month that I have spent on the design process with Texas Instruments WEBENCH Power Architect was fruitful.
I did accelerate my design process and was able to play around with multiple devices at the same time.
The learning curve is not so steep. The tool is rather intuitive.
One can quickly get a hang of the tool and start a design.
A few cons of the tool are there as well.
Sometimes the loading time is too long for the flash player.
When I went from one step to the next my project id was changed automatically without any warning on the screen. This part is a bit annoying. I would prefer to keep the same project id and name until the end of the project which is Export option.
It would be also better if the Project menu is made more user friendly.