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Power & Energy

11 Posts authored by: ctammann element14 Team
I feel very fortunate to have gotten to jump right into board design right out of school, which I can't believe was so long ago. The first 6 years of my career was a trial by fire that taught me a lot of great lessons on design practice. To this day I still make recommendations on designs based on what I learned about designing in plenty of operational margin and saving cost wherever you can. Yes those things don't really go together, but the point is I never take for granted the value inherent ...
I thought I'd share a bit of personal experience with designing products for harsh environments. I worked in telecom for several years, designing equipment for last mile applications. We designed central office racks as well as pole mount remote equipment. Telecom industry standards are very stringent and require a lot of safety and environmental protections. I thought I'd share 2 scenarios, one in which I was able to modify a test procedure in order to pass a stress test and another where I tho ...
It's hard to win a race if you can't get off the blocks... it's hard to throw a touchdown if you can't take the snap... it's hard to... you get the point.   I've been designing power around FPGAs, specifically Xilinx for almost 20 years. Wow, that doesn't sound right when I say it out loud. Anyway, to get the most out of these parts the power system can sometimes become fairly complex. Start up of your power supplies is typically the highest stress point of operation. Think about it, when ...
Over the past several months, we've seen situations arise on two of our platforms that ended up highlighting how nice it is to have some ability to "tweak" your on board power system. I've written two blogs in the past both referencing the programmable architecture we've used on several platforms over the years (linked below).   Benefits of Power System Telemetry Using PMBus Programmable power is great, but review it carefully   I won't rehash a lot of what I like about using these ...
Designing the proper thermal solution around your product is critical to success. I'm sure you've heard that more times than you can count, which in turn creates that internal eye roll we all have when we are fed reminders of what we consider common sense. Just like power, thermal design is often left to the end. Ironically most product reliability failures end up being the result of power or thermal issues, which most of us know yet there is still a tendency to de-emphasize it during developmen ...
As most established engineers will tell you, the best lessons learned are honestly from things we’ve screwed up in the past. One of my first mentors told me that and I’d have to agree 100%. Nothing burns itself into your mind quite as well as something that has bitten you on the other end.   With that in mind I wanted to share a recent experience I had with one of my favorite new devices in hopes of saving some of you future frustrations. The IRPS5401 is a multichannel PMIC fro ...
Xilinx FPGAs provide a tremendous amount of design flexibility. Because they are so versatile, defining your power requirements isn’t as straightforward as simply reading an input voltage and load current requirement. You have core rails, auxiliary rails, bank rails and more that provide power to different portions of the chip. Some of these voltages are fixed and some are adjustable to unlock better performance or allow you to set I/O voltage levels compatible with other devices you want ...
Controller vs converter vs module Integration is the driving force behind many of the technologies we see from semiconductor manufacturers. Power devices are no different, whether it be integration of compensation, switching components, multiple outputs or inductors.   For this conversation we are going to define controller as, well, a switching controller. A converter would be a controller with integrated switches (we’ll focus on synchronous converters with both high and low side FE ...
Telemetry in power systems has been around for quite a while, however it usually just showed up in high power environments like server farms. Power system telemetry is the communication between your system processing and the power supply devices. This communication can be used to control and / or monitor details about your power system. PMBus, Power Management Bus is an open standard for digital communication between power devices. The standard was created and is maintained by the System Managem ...
At some point in the product chain, almost all electronics require conversion from an AC source to a DC one. Whether your product ships with an external adapter, battery charger, or if you design your own offline (AC/DC) converter, that originating source power most likely comes from AC mains.   In many cases, it makes the most sense for engineers to buy off the shelf AC/DC converter solutions. There are many good options from manufacturers like Artesyn, Lambda, Bel Power and SL Power. The ...
IC’s typically specify an accuracy range requirement for their power rails. For a very long time 5% was the norm. In a lot of cases that still stands true, but with higher performance, higher accuracy or higher power devices this requirement has pushed down to 3% or lower. In addition, limitations may be set on peak to peak noise, transient response requirements and more. So how do you design your system to meet these requirements?   Sources of Error A good first step is understanding ...