Texas Instruments | Performing Accurate PFM Mode Efficiency Measurements (Rev. A) | Application notes | Texas Instruments Performing Accurate PFM Mode Efficiency Measurements (Rev. A) Application notes

Texas Instruments Performing Accurate PFM Mode Efficiency Measurements (Rev. A) Application notes
Application Report
SLVA236A – April 2006 – Revised December 2018
Performing Accurate Power Save Mode Efficiency
Measurements
Jatan Naik ........................................................................................................ PPM - Portable Power
ABSTRACT
When performing measurements on DC-DC converters using pulse frequency modulation (PFM) or any
power save mode, proper care must be taken to ensure that the measurements are accurate. An accurate
PFM mode efficiency measurement is critical for systems which require high efficiency at low loads, such
as in smart home systems, tablets, wearables, and metering. Due to the nature of a converter operating in
PFM mode, the test setup required to obtain correct measurements differs from the test setup that is
normally used to acquire measurements of the device operating in PWM mode. An improper test setup
can result in incorrect efficiency measurement data that varies considerably from the data sheet
specifications.
This application report contains guidelines that can assist the user in acquiring accurate efficiency
measurements. An example of measurements taken on the TPS61020 is provided.
1
2
3
4
Contents
Introduction ...................................................................................................................
Efficiency Measurements ...................................................................................................
Conclusion ....................................................................................................................
References ...................................................................................................................
2
4
7
7
List of Figures
1
PWM Efficiency .............................................................................................................. 2
2
Power Save Mode Efficiency ............................................................................................... 2
3
PWM Switching Node Waveform .......................................................................................... 3
4
PFM Switching Node Waveform ........................................................................................... 3
5
PWM Measurements ........................................................................................................ 4
6
PFM Measurements ......................................................................................................... 5
7
Input Current Waveform .................................................................................................... 6
8
Efficiency Comparison
......................................................................................................
7
List of Tables
Trademarks
E2E is a trademark of Texas Instruments.
All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
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1
Introduction
1
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Introduction
Pulse frequency modulation (PFM) is a switching method commonly used in many DC-DC voltage
converters to improve efficiency at light loads. PFM mode is also referred to as power save mode in TI
data sheets. A converter operating in power save mode uses PFM at light load currents and pulse width
modulation (PWM) at heavier load currents. This type of operation allows the converter to maintain high
efficiency over a wide range of output current. Figure 1 and Figure 2 display two graphs comparing the
efficiency of the TPS61020 in PWM and PFM/power save mode.
100
100
2.8 V
90
90
1.8 V
2.4 V
2.4 V
Efficiency - %
Efficiency - %
70
60
50
2.8 V
70
60
50
40
40
30
30
20
1.8 V
80
80
20
1
10
100
1000
1
10
100
IO - Output Current - mA
IO - Output Current - mA
Figure 1. PWM Efficiency
1000
Figure 2. Power Save Mode Efficiency
While in PFM mode, the converter only operates when the output voltage is below the nominal output
voltage. When this happens, the converter begins switching until the output voltage is regulated to a
typical value between the nominal output voltage and 0.8% above the nominal output voltage. During the
period where the converter is powered down, all unnecessary internal circuitry is turned off to reduce the
IC's quiescent current. This control method significantly reduces the quiescent current to a typical value of
20 µA, which results in higher efficiency at light loads.
In contrast to PWM mode, in which the converter is continuously switching, PFM mode allows the
converter to switch in short bursts. Figure 3 and Figure 4 show the switch node waveforms when the
converter is operating in PWM and PFM mode, respectively.
2
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Introduction
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Figure 3. PWM Switching Node Waveform
Figure 4. PFM Switching Node Waveform
NOTE: The time scale in Figure 3 is 2 µs/div, whereas the time scale in Figure 4 is 20 µs/div.
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Efficiency Measurements
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2
Efficiency Measurements
2.1
PWM Efficiency Measurements
When measuring the efficiency of DC-DC converters, it is important that the voltage and current meters
are sensing their values at the proper locations. For example, the setup shown in Figure 5 can be used to
perform efficiency measurements of a boost converter operating in PWM mode.
+
Figure 5. PWM Measurements
Most laboratory power supplies display their voltage output setting, but it is important that the voltage
displayed on the power supply is not used in efficiency calculations. Instead, a separate voltmeter should
be connected directly across the input of the converter, as shown in Figure 5. This ensures that the
measured voltage is the true voltage at the input of the converter and does not include additional voltage
drops across the current meter or any cabling. Similarly, a separate voltmeter should be connected
directly across the output of the converter to acquire the output voltage values.
4
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Efficiency Measurements
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2.2
PFM Efficiency Measurements
In order to accurately measure the efficiency of a converter operating in PFM mode, the test setup shown
in Figure 5 must be slightly modified to the setup shown in Figure 6.
+
+
Figure 6. PFM Measurements
Figure 6 is exactly the same as Figure 5, with the exception of a capacitor added across the input. This
capacitor must be added to ensure that the efficiency measurements are correct. Typically, the
capacitance of the added input capacitor should be much larger than the capacitance of C1. To
understand why an additional capacitor is needed, consider the waveforms shown in Figure 7.
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Efficiency Measurements
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Figure 7. Input Current Waveform
In Figure 7, the triangular waveform represents the input current of a converter operating in PFM mode
without the additional input capacitor (i.e., when the test setup is as shown in Figure 5). The straight
waveform represents the input current when a capacitor is added across the input (i.e., when the test
setup is as shown in Figure 6). If no capacitor is added, then the input current meter cannot accurately
determine the amperage of the input current, because the input current has a large sinusoidal component.
In contrast, adding a large capacitance across the input produces a steady current waveform, allowing the
input current meter to accurately sense the amperage of the input current. Although the current sensed by
the meter is purely DC, the current provided by the added capacitor will be similar to the saw tooth
waveform in Figure 7, except it will not have a DC offset. Thus, the role of the capacitor can be viewed as
separating the input current into DC and AC. A current meter monitoring the current provided by the added
capacitor would sense a saw tooth waveform with no DC offset.
Using the test setup shown in Figure 5 to measure PFM efficiency may result in incorrect data that varies
by as much as 15% from the actual efficiency. This disparity is most evident at low input voltage and
current load. Figure 8 displays efficiency measurements taken with and without an additional input
capacitor for various input voltages. At approximately 65-mA output current, all three curves converge.
This is because the converter switches from PFM to PWM mode at 65-mA output current. Furthermore,
adding the additional input capacitor has no effect on PWM measurements; the efficiency measured is the
same whether the capacitor is added or not.
6
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Conclusion
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95
Efficiency - %
85
Power Save Mode
with Additional Capacitor
75
Power Save Mode
without Additional Capacitor
65
Forced PWM Mode
55
45
VI = 2.4 V,
VO = 3.3 V
35
25
1
10
100
IO - Output Current - mA
1000
Figure 8. Efficiency Comparison
3
Conclusion
Care must be taken when measuring the efficiency of DC-DC voltage converters. The voltmeters being
used should be connected directly across the input and output of the converter, regardless of whether it is
operating in PFM or PWM mode. Additionally, a large capacitor should be added across the input of the
converter to ensure that PFM mode efficiency measurements are properly taken.
4
References
•
•
Accurately measuring efficiency of ultralow-IQ devices, 1Q 2014, Analog Applications Journal
What is that giant tantalum cap on the input of the EVM?, May 20, 2015, Fully Charged Blog, TI E2E™
Community
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Revision History
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Revision History
NOTE: Page numbers for previous revisions may differ from page numbers in the current version.
Changes from Original (April 2006) to A Revision .......................................................................................................... Page
•
•
•
8
Changed the title From: Performing Accurate PFM Mode Efficiency Measurements To: Performing Accurate Power Save
Mode Efficiency Measurements ......................................................................................................... 1
Changed the abstract section ........................................................................................................... 1
Added the References section .......................................................................................................... 7
Revision History
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