Texas Instruments | TB-01 Preventing Latch-Up in the COMBO II CODEC/Filter | Application notes | Texas Instruments TB-01 Preventing Latch-Up in the COMBO II CODEC/Filter Application notes

Texas Instruments TB-01 Preventing Latch-Up in the COMBO II CODEC/Filter Application notes
TB-01 Preventing Latch-Up in the COMBO II CODEC/Filter
Literature Number: SNLA005
National Semiconductor
Application Brief TB- 01
August 1988
Despite the superior latch-up resistance already achieved,
there are still conditions under which the COMBO II family of
CODEC/Filter devices can be made to latch-up. These conditions are well understood and some simple precautions
will prevent them from occurring.
Once Q2 turns on, its collector current provides the source
of base current for Q1 and other PNP parasitic transistors
not shown in the figure. Q1 then supplies additional base
current to Q2, resulting in latch-up or at very minimum a high
current operating state. At this point, there may be sufficient
current flowing that connecting VSS will not turn off fQ2 but
will turn on Q3, further intensifying the latch-up.
The latch-up mechanisms for CMOS circuits operating with
single supplies such as logic devices are generally well understood and easily controlled. The situation is a more complicated with mixed signal analog and digital devices such
as CODEC/Filters, which operate from dual supplies. Figure
1 illustrates some of the parasitic transistors which have
been found to play the most significant role in triggering
latch-up in dual supply N-well CMOS devices. Once activated, the latch-up mechanism is essentially the same as for
single supply devices.
The normal method of preventing latch-up in CMOS devices
involves minimizing the gain of the parasitic transistors and
insuring, through layout techniques, that a low value resistance is connected across the base-emitter junction of one
or both of the parasitic transistors (PNP and NPN). In a
single supply device, VSS and GND in Figure 1 would be
connected together at frequent intervals through the device
layout, insuring the Rsub is of sufficiently low value to shunt
all injected current away from the base of Q2. In dual supply
devices where VSS and GND are separated by 5V, it would
at first seem that any current injected by parasitic transistors
such as Q1 would flow harmlessly to VSS, maintaining the
base-emitter junction of Q2 safely reverse biased. If however, VSS were to momentarily become positive relative to
GND, the base-emitter junction of Q2 would forward bias
and the low value of Rsub would be of no benefit in shunting
away base current. It would, in fact, become the path
through which base current flowed to Q2. As will be explained, this is the mechanism which triggers latch-up in
COMBO II devices .
The fundamental trigger mechanism for latch-up in dual supply CMOS devices is VSS going positive relative to GND.
Several relatively common situations which can activate this
mechanism will be discussed. Clearly, all of these situations
deal in some way with VSS ‘‘floating’’, at least momentarily,
since VSS being positive relative to GND is an essential
element of the trigger mechanism.
In linecard applications, it is frequently necessary to insert
the card into the line frame ‘‘hot’’, i.e., with power already
on. It is assumed that the GND pin on the card always
makes contact before the supply pins or any signal pins as
recommended in Application Note AN-370.
AN-370 also recommends that the VCC and VSS pins make
contact before any signal pins. But depending on the type of
connector it may not be possible to have three pin lengths
(for GND, VCC and VSS, and signal pins). In this case, VCC,
VSS and all signal pins may connect in any sequence depending on how the card is inserted. Another fairly common
practice, which is not recommended, is to connect the inputs of the COMBO device directly to the backplane. Since
power is on and the backplane is active, the following situation may arise:
Preventing Latch-Up in the COMBO II CODEC/Filter
Preventing Latch-Up
in the COMBO II TM
# GND connects
# Signal inputs are connected and inputs are either at a 5V
or have active logic signals on them
# The VCC and VSS pins are not connected
In this situation transistor Q1 is turned on, since the VCC pin
is not connected yet and is therefore at a lower potential
than the inputs. Since VCC tends to have large filter capaci-
COMBOTM and COMBO IITM are trademarks of National Semiconductor Corporation.
C1995 National Semiconductor Corporation
RRD-B30M115/Printed in U. S. A.
TL/H/10020 – 1
Preventing Latch-Up in the COMBO II CODEC/Filter
tors connected to it, Q1 has an ample source of base current. Current flows from the emitter of Q1 through its collector to the VSS. Since the VSS pin is not yet connected, VSS
is pulled positive, forward biasing the base of Q2. Part of the
collector current from Q2 provides additional base current
for Q1, the rest of the collector current from Q2 flows to
VCC. If VCC connects at this time, very large currents can
flow because the gain of the vertical PNP Q1 is very high,
and essentially none of it’s collector current is shunted away
from the base of Q2. Even though only a portion of the Q2
collector current reaches the base of Q1, there may be a
significant net gain around the Q1–Q2 loop. At this point
sufficient current may be flowing such that connecting VSS
will not stop the latch-up and Q3 will turn on with similar
If the inputs to the COMBO device are buffered from the
backplane by logic devices operating from the same a 5V
supply, the inputs cannot rise above VCC, turning on Q1 and
pulling VSS positive. In some cases, however, external circuits such as operational amplifiers may provide a direct
current path from VCC to VSS. In this case, the following
situation may arise:
# GND connects
# The VCC pin connects
Since VSS is still floating, the external circuit may actually
pull VSS positive, turning on Q2. This situation is not as likely
to cause latch-up unless the external circuit provides fairly
large currents to VSS, but it is something to watch out for
Normally, power supply sequencing is not an issue. One
special case where it is of concern is when separate supplies are used for digital circuitry on the linecard and the
COMBO device. In this case, if the logic a 5V supply is
turned on before the COMBO a 5V supply and VSS, the
situation may be essentially the same as described in Input
Signals Applied before VCC above. Another situation
which can produce similar results arises when the same
a 5V supply is used but very heavy filtering is used on the
COMBO supply. This can cause the COMBO’s VCC voltage
to rise slower than its input voltage with similar consequences.
There are a number of very simple precautions which if followed will insure that COMBO II will not latch-up.
The minimum solution is:
# Insure that the GND pin on the circuit board makes contact before the supply or signal pins.
# Connect a Schottky diode from VSS to GND. We recommend a 1N5817 which provides excellent protection at
low cost. No series impedance should isolate the
Schottky diode from the device’s VSS pin.
The best solution is to follow the advice of Application Note
AN-370. This means that in addition to the items above:
# Connect a Schottky diode (1N5817) from VCC to GND.
# The COMBO inputs and outputs should be buffered from
the backplane.
While the precautions above provide excellent protection at
low cost, there are of course alternative ways to achieve the
same goal. Two such approaches, either one of which will
work are:
A Apply VSS and then VCC BEFORE any inputs, or . . .
B Use 1 kX series resistors to limit the current into device
inputs that go directly to the backplane or to sources
which can be active before VCC is applied.
The latch-up trigger mechanism in COMBO II has been explained and several simple, low cost precautions presented
to insure safe and reliable operation of the device under real
operational conditions. We at National will continue to work
on improving the already excellent latch-up resistance of
the COMBO II family. However the precautions described
above and in AN-370 are always recommended and will
provide maximum reliability with a minimum of inconvenience. In the mean time, remember,
# Ground first . . .
# Schottky diode from VSS to GND . . .
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