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Texas Instruments-DCDC Power:FPGA & Data Converter - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 9
Demo Software was of good quality: 10
Product was easy to use: 10
Support materials were available: 9
The price to performance ratio was good: 10
TotalScore: 58 / 60
  • RoadTest: Texas Instruments-DCDC Power:FPGA & Data Converter
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Enpirion DC/DC converters
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: The only real downside was the requirement of an external inductor

  • Detailed Review:

    What’s in the box?

    Inside the large box, are just 2 items, the board, and a small leaflet.

    The leaflet explains where to download the manual for the board, which explains the connections and jumpers on the board.

    It only took a couple of minutes to make up the connections and get it connected to my power supply and load resistor.

     

    How it performed

    Despite the small size of the device (2mm x 3mm), it seemed to never get more than slightly warm to the touch, although I could not test at full load for too long, as my 10W resistor started to cook rather.

    So most of my tests were done at 3.3V with a 10R resistor, to avoid getting burnt!

     

    First, I looked at the soft start with both 10R and 1R loads, which actually showed how poor my power supply was, but I thought I would still share the results, especially as the converter coped perfectly with the poor input.

     

    Firstly, I must apologise for the poor quality of the oscilloscope pictures, which were taken with my phone from my old Philips combiscope, as I was made redundant in December (I now have another job) and lost access to the nice ‘toys’ I intended to use for this review.

     

    With 10R load

    And with 1R load

    Here you can especially see that the poor input was completely ignored, and the converter just go on with its job.

     

    Next I looked at the switching, which looked nice and clean with little noise.

    And finally, I examined the output noise, which at 3.3V with the 10R resistor was minimal

     

    Conclusion

    The evaluation module is a nice way to be able to have a play with this converter, and to see how it performs in real-life situations.

     

    For its size, the converter does a very good job, and has many nice features to make it do what you want. I also have used the Intel (Enpirion/Altera) converters, which have the advantage of not requiring an external inductor (it is built in), but has no other options other than setting of the output voltage, so I guess it depends what you are looking for. This converter gives more flexibility, at the expense of board area due to the external inductor (which seems to be larger than the converter itself!).

     

    Just like many ICs of this size, it has no legs, and has pads on the underside of the package, and so does not really lend itself to hand soldering, making prototyping more difficult, especially for the hobbyist, but you could probably get away with using a small amount of solder paste and a hot air gun. This method worked for me with similar sized chips most of the time.


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