editor's blog
Subscribe Now

Switching Power Supplies Revamped

Bric_pic.jpgA big change is coming to a power supply near you.

At least, that’s what Semitrex is promising with their new TRONIUM family of power supply systems on a chip (PSSoCs). They’re doing some things differently, resulting in lower-power – and, in particular, lower-“vampire”-power – bricks.

The first difference is that they’re going capacitive; there’s no transformer. How do they handle breakdown issues? By using a cascade of smaller capacitors (which they say also reduces electromagnetic interference (EMI) ). They have an array, and they pick the caps to suit the necessary breakdown.

They haven’t been able to completely eliminate inductors, since the high-current caps they need require non-standard processing (apparently, the breakdown voltage is tied to RDSon, and they need to decouple that). They’re working with fabs on that one. So the caps are used for “pre-regulation.”

The second big change is how they do the sensing needed for control. These switching converters use pulse-width modulation to control the in/out voltage ratio, and – for no good reason, according to Semitrex – the sensing required for that control loop has traditionally been on the secondary side.

These more traditional units used transformers for isolation, meaning the primary and secondary side were  mutually isolated. The control is on the primary side, so you need a way to get the secondary sense signal back across the transformer without an electrical connection; this was typically done with an opto-isolator.

Instead, Semitrex is doing the sensing on the primary side. This eliminates several components from the bill of materials. (Although, if there’s no transformer, there isn’t isolation … some of these details and diagrams are pending their filing of patents, so not all is clear.)

Finally, they’ve integrated most everything into a single module, reducing the number of external components required. The algorithms are built in (they have a state machine for low-level  control and a microprocessor for higher-level algorithms). This saves cost, hassle, and lowers power.

They’re targeting supplies in the 10-100-W range, 50-500 mA. They claim less than 1 mW of standby power, and the chip can respond to a load in 3-5 ns. You can think of the standby power as the vampire power when it’s sitting around doing nothing useful. For comparison, Semitrex says that today’s idle power supplies can burn more than 100 mW (100 mW is apparently an upcoming US Dept. of Energy efficiency standard that they say many supplies today cannot meet).

You can read more in their announcement.

 

PS They tried to put some pronunciation help in the press release, but I have to confess that it confused me more than helping. They use stress marks, but indicate primary stress on the first and second syllables (you can’t have primary stress on more than one syllable), and then they show the middle syllable in caps – another way to indicate primary stress. They also have a double-stress mark on the last syllable… that would normally mean extra stress, which can’t be right. If I ignore the stress marks, then it’s “tron-EE-um.” If that’s the case, I’m not sure that will stick – my guess is that, without hearing it, everyone is going to say “TROH-nee-um.” (Or, more formally, “’tron-i-um” or “tron’-i-um”, depending on whether you pre- or-post-mark stress… seems both ways are done…) But I digress…

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Apr 18, 2021
https://youtu.be/afv9_fRCrq8 Made at Target Oakridge (camera Ziyue Zhang) Monday: "Targeting" the Open Compute Project Tuesday: NUMECA, Computational Fluid Dynamics...and the America's... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community s...
Apr 16, 2021
Spring is in the air and summer is just around the corner. It is time to get out the Old Farmers Almanac and check on the planting schedule as you plan out your garden.  If you are unfamiliar with a Farmers Almanac, it is a publication containing weather forecasts, plantin...
Apr 15, 2021
Explore the history of FPGA prototyping in the SoC design/verification process and learn about HAPS-100, a new prototyping system for complex AI & HPC SoCs. The post Scaling FPGA-Based Prototyping to Meet Verification Demands of Complex SoCs appeared first on From Silic...
Apr 14, 2021
By Simon Favre If you're not using critical area analysis and design for manufacturing to… The post DFM: Still a really good thing to do! appeared first on Design with Calibre....

featured video

The Verification World We Know is About to be Revolutionized

Sponsored by Cadence Design Systems

Designs and software are growing in complexity. With verification, you need the right tool at the right time. Cadence® Palladium® Z2 emulation and Protium™ X2 prototyping dynamic duo address challenges of advanced applications from mobile to consumer and hyperscale computing. With a seamlessly integrated flow, unified debug, common interfaces, and testbench content across the systems, the dynamic duo offers rapid design migration and testing from emulation to prototyping. See them in action.

Click here for more information

featured paper

From Chips to Ships, Solve Them All With HFSS

Sponsored by Ansys

There are virtually no limits to the design challenges that can be solved with Ansys HFSS and the new HFSS Mesh Fusion technology! Check out this blog to know what the latest innovation in HFSS 2021 can do for you.

Click here to read the blog post

Featured Chalk Talk

Rail Data Connectivity

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and TE Connectivity

The rail industry is undergoing a technological revolution right now, and Ethernet connectivity is at the heart of it. But, finding the right interconnect solutions for high-reliability applications such as rail isn’t easy. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Egbert Stellinga from TE Connectivity about TE’s portfolio of interconnect solutions for rail and other reliability-critical applications.

Click here for more information about TE Connectivity EN50155 Managed Ethernet Switches