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ADIsimPower Provides
Robust, Customizable
DC-to-DC Converter Designs
By Matt Kessler
Designers of dc-to-dc converters, both novice and expert
alike, are faced with an overwhelming number of options
for power management1 ICs. Finding the best combination
of features, performance, integration level, and price can be
difficult enough—and the actual design work can be daunting.
ADIsimPower ™ 2 is designed to both simplify the IC selection
process and to provide the information required to build an
optimized dc-to-dc converter.
While most dc-to-dc selection guides simply direct users to
switching regulators,3 switching controllers,4 and linear regulators5
that will work with a given set of inputs—without providing the
means to quantify the trade-offs made in selecting one part
over another—ADIsimPower allows designers to investigate
power-conversion trade-offs and navigate design complexities. An
intelligent selection guide combined with a comprehensive design
assistant, this new tool provides robust designs that are optimized
to the user’s exact inputs for size, efficiency, cost, parts count, or
some combination thereof.
The ADIsimPower selection and design process comprises
four steps: 1. Enter Your Design Criteria, 2. View All
Design Solutions, 3. View Solution Details, and 4. Build
Your Design. At the end of the experience, the goal is for
ADIsimPower to provide a customized schematic, bill of
materials (BOM) with vendor part numbers and prices,
efficiency plots, performance specifications, closed-loop transfer
function, and the means to rapidly build the design.
Enter Your Design Criteria
The first page of ADIsimPower includes user input fields for
minimum input voltage, maximum input voltage, output voltage,
output current, and maximum ambient temperature; bounds for
each parameter are shown below the corresponding text box. After
filling in the boxes, choose Find Solutions to find recommended
solutions for this application.
Or, users who know which Analog Devices power management part
they would like to use can select choose the IC. This will activate
a pull-down menu that displays a list of currently supported power
management ICs. After selecting one of these parts, the user will
be taken directly to View Solution Details.
Analog Dialogue 44-01, January (2010)
View All Design Solutions
The second stage of ADIsimPower helps the user to choose
the best part for the design. At the top, the design inputs
from the first stage are repeated for clarity. Below this, the
Recommended Solutions suggests ICs and topologies for
solutions yielding the lowest cost, smallest size, fewest parts, and
highest efficiency. The recommendations are based on the entire
dc-to-dc converter design, including the power management IC,
inductors, capacitors, resistors, MOSFETs, and diodes.
Below the Recommended Solutions, a table quantifies to the
first order the solution cost, size, efficiency, and component
count for every IC that works, allowing users to see the design
trade-offs without having to do individual designs with each
part. Each column can be sorted to highlight the most important
trade-offs. A feature list can be found at the right of the table.
To expand or collapse this list, click on Show all features
or Show default features. Clicking on the associated check
box selects or deselects a feature. Select all the features that
are required for the application. ICs that do not include the
selected features will be removed from the table and from the
recommended solutions.
After selecting the IC that best balances features, performance,
integration level, and cost, click on the corresponding View
Solution button. If this button is not active, comprehensive
design support is not yet available on ADIsimPower. Click on
the IC name to see the data sheet and other information. Click
Download Design Tool to get an Excel-based design tool that
can be run locally.
View Solution Details
In this stage, ADIsimPower generates and displays the complete
design, including a customized schematic, a well-documented
bill of materials, and estimates of operational parameters, power
dissipation, and maximum temperature. Switching converter
designs also show plots of efficiency, loss, and, in some cases, the
closed-loop transfer function.
At the top of the page, the original inputs are repeated for
clarity; they can be updated if the design parameters have
changed. Click on Modify Advanced Settings, which will
open up a window allowing the user to modify many settings,
including, but not limited to, accuracy, maximum component
height, peak-to-peak output voltage r ipple, input f ilter
requirements, load transient response, inductor ripple current,
and MOSFET vendor preference (a subset of these features
may be shown depending upon the part selection). The ability
to modify these settings is one way in which ADIsimPower
differentiates itself from other dc-to-dc converter design tools.
Though understandable enough to make novice power supply
designers feel comfortable, the advanced settings are exactly
the kind of parameters expert power supply designers expect
to control in their designs.
The next section on the page has several tabs that specify various
important design parameters. Once again, the information in
these tabs will vary depending upon the chosen IC, but common
tabs include Operational Estimates, Dissipation Estimates,
and Temperature Estimates. All parameters are shown at
both minimum and maximum input voltage. The Operational
Estimates tab includes parameters such as PWM duty cycle,
peak-to-peak output voltage ripple, and peak inductor current.
The Dissipation Estimates tab shows the power dissipated in
each high loss component. The Temperature Estimates tab
shows the temperatures of each of the components associated
with loss in the Dissipation Estimates tab. Power dissipation
and temperature calculations assume worst-case values for
many of the parameters that dictate power loss to ensure a
robust design.
Below the Bill of Materials is the Graphs section, which may
include plots of efficiency, loss, and the closed-loop transfer
function (Bode plot)—all at both minimum and maximum input
voltages. The efficiency and loss curves correspond to losses
associated with worst-case values for many high loss parameters.
This worst-case analysis is common throughout the ADIsimPower
design process. The goal is to give the user confidence that
the designs provided by the tool are robust across component
tolerances, ambient temperature range, and other circuit variances.
This tool provides far more than a basic solution.
At the top of each section in the View Solution Details stage
are radial buttons for each design criterion (Lowest cost, Part
count, Efficiency, and Size). Selecting a new radial button will
completely redesign the circuit according to the new design criteria,
nullifying all BOM changes previously made. When the final
design has been determined, click on Build This Solution!
The following section shows the complete customized schematic,
including reference designations and pin numbers.
Build Your Design
Next on the page is the Bill of Materials. This may have
several components that can be edited, as indicated by an
orange item number. Click on the item number to see a list of
other components that are prequalified to work in the design.
The column headings will vary depending upon the type of
component. Typical headings include Manufacturer, Part
Number, Loss (W), Area (mm 2), Hgt (mm), Cost ($), and
other specifications that characterize the part and how it will
work in the circuit. These allow the user to continue to make
performance-vs.-size-vs.-cost trade-offs to fully customize
the design. Each of these columns can be sorted, which makes
quantifying gains and losses associated with changing parts
easier. If a new part is selected, ADIsimPower will redesign
with the selected component, ensuring that all specifications
are still met.
The first item on this page is a picture of the appropriate evaluation
board for the IC chosen in the previous stages. Links to order the
evaluation board and IC are to the right of the evaluation board
picture. Below it is the schematic that corresponds to the entire
evaluation board. Note that the schematic in this section of the tool
corresponds to the evaluation board, which usually accommodates
many different configurations. Next to each component on the
schematic are value and package designators that will be helpful
while building the board. Many of these will be designated
No Pop, as they are not required in this specific design. Below
the schematic is the bill of materials, which once again applies to
the evaluation board. Each component is listed, allowing it to be
checked off as the board is populated. The schematic and bill of
materials in this section may be considerably longer and more
complicated than the schematic and bill of materials in the
View Your Solution section, which would be more representative
of the final design. Below the bill of materials are pictures of the top
assembly, bottom assembly, and all PCB layers of the evaluation
board. In short, this stage provides everything one needs to build
the design created in ADIsimPower.
Analog Dialogue 44-01, January (2010)
Links allow the user to download or email all information found
in the Build Your Design and View Solution Details sections
in a format similar to that seen while interacting with the tool
on the Web.
Parts Database
The parts database that ADIsimPower uses includes more than
3000 unique part numbers, including inductors, MOSFETs,
diodes, capacitors, and power-management ICs. Each of these part
types naturally has parasitic elements that cause them to behave in
a nonideal fashion; they must be considered in order to do robust
power supply design. Although many of these parasitic elements
are not fully characterized on their data sheets, the architects and
implementers of ADIsimPower have worked with manufacturers of
these components to procure this unpublished information. The
nonideal behaviors taken into account in the tool include, but are
not limited to, the following:
Capacitors: change of capacitance with applied voltage (dC/dV),
change of ESR with switching frequency (dC/dT).
Inductors: core loss and skin-effect losses as a function of
switching frequency.
Diodes: change of forward voltage with forward current (dVf/dI),
change of forward voltage with temperature (dVf/dT), change
of parasitic capacitance with applied voltage (dC/dV).
M O S F E Ts : c h a n g e o f R d s (o n) w i t h t e m p e r a t u r e
(dRds(on)/dT), change of Rds(on) with applied gate-tosource voltage (dRds(on)/dVgs), change of parasitic capacitance
(Coss, Crss, Ciss) with applied voltage (dC/dV).
These are just the most general of the many nonideal component
behaviors that designs produced by ADIsimPower take into
account. The result is that both frequent and first-time users
of ADIsimPower find the designs are robust and as close to
production-ready as one could expect from any design tool.
ADIsimPower helps designers, both novice and expert, find
the right IC for a dc-to-dc converter design by providing the
Analog Dialogue 44-01, January (2010)
means to find the best combination of features, performance,
level of integration, and price point for their applications. The
intelligent selection guide in the View All Design Solutions
section allows the user to see trade-offs that could otherwise
only be seen by doing the whole design for each part individually.
The third section of the tool, View Solution Details, allows
users to further hone the robust and well-documented design
shown by editing components and adjusting advanced features.
The final stage, Build Your Solution, provides all the necessary
information to build the evaluation board to evaluate the
design. ADIsimPower differentiates itself as a dc-to-dc voltage
regulator design and selection tool by providing robust designs
for switching controllers, switching regulators, and LDOs that
are truly optimized for each unique application.
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The Author
Matt Kessler [[email protected]]
i s a n a p p l i c at i o n s e n g i n e e r f o r Powe r
Management Products in the Customer
Applications Group in Fort Collins, CO.
Responsible for technical support for a wide
range of a products and customers, Matt
is also one of the original architects and
developers of ADIsimPower. Matt earned
his BSEE from the University of Texas at
Dallas and is currently pursuing his MSEE at Colorado State
University. He has been with Analog Devices since 2007.
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