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
Jul 5, 2022
The 30th edition of SMM , the leading international maritime trade fair, is coming soon. The world of shipbuilders, naval architects, offshore experts and maritime suppliers will be gathering in... ...
Jul 5, 2022
By Editorial Team The post Q&A with Luca Amaru, Logic Synthesis Guru and DAC Under-40 Innovators Honoree appeared first on From Silicon To Software....
Jun 28, 2022
Watching this video caused me to wander off into the weeds looking at a weird and wonderful collection of wheeled implementations....

featured video

Multi-Vendor Extra Long Reach 112G SerDes Interoperability Between Synopsys and AMD

Sponsored by Synopsys

This OFC 2022 demo features Synopsys 112G Ethernet IP interoperating with AMD's 112G FPGA and 2.5m DAC, showcasing best TX and RX performance with auto negotiation and link training.

Learn More

featured paper

3 key considerations for your next-generation HMI design

Sponsored by Texas Instruments

Human-Machine Interface (HMI) designs are evolving. Learn about three key design considerations for next-generation HMI and find out how low-cost edge AI, power-efficient processing and advanced display capabilities are paving the way for new human-machine interfaces that are smart, easily deployable, and interactive.

Click to read more

featured chalk talk

Solar Cells Optimized for Indoor Applications

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and TDK

Solar cell technology is more popular than ever before, but we have only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to new applications for photovoltaic cell technology. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Chris Burket from TDK about the basics of photovoltaic cells, what sets TDK’s a-SI film solar cells away from other solar cell technology on the market today and the cool new applications that can take advantage of this powerful technology.

Click here for more information about TDK BCS Low Illumination Solar Cells