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issue: February 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine

Electronic Report
Complexity Control

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Complex applications such as laptops and digital TVs can be simplified using a highly integrated digital signal controller.

Dallas, Texas, U.S.-based Texas Instruments says its F28044 represents the first digital controller to offer a high level of power supply centric peripheral integration in a single device that can be used in multi-rail and multi-phase applications.

Allowing power system designers to transition to software-controlled, digital power management using 32-bit digital signal processor (DSP) controllers, Texas Instruments (TI) has introduced a digital signal controller targeted at multi-channel point
of load (POL) applications such as telecommunications and networking infrastructure equipment, servers, laptop computers, and digital TVs.
The TMS320F28044 controller is said to be the industry’s only device to offer the ability to manage up to 16 DC/DC converter channels using a single programmable controller with 100 MIPS of DSP performance. According to David Figoli, an applications engineer at TI, the controller is based on centrally “orchestrated” multi-rail/ multi-phase power control and management.  
“Laptops today are loaded with many features realized via a multitude of silicon chips (CPU, memory, graphics, display, audio, LAN),  which require a multitude of voltage supply rails,” Figoli explains. “These rails have requirements not only in voltage value, but also in power level, sequencing relative to each other, ramp-rate control (often called soft-start), fault monitoring, diagnostics, and low power management such as ‘throttling’ and margining.
The F28044 is intended to orchestrate both the control (closed-loop regulation) and overall power management of all the various
supply rails.”
By utilizing one central controller, Figoli says engineers can avoid using separate chips for sequencing, soft-start, monitoring, and supervisory functions. “This leads to an overall complexity reduction, saving in bill of materials (BOM) and increasing power supply ‘intelligence,’ which is critical for lowering power consumption and increasing laptop run-time,” he says.
The key behind the controller is that it is highly integrated, with up to 16 high-resolution PWM outputs that help control a multitude of switch-mode supply rails. “Combinations of both single-phase buck converters plus multi-phase interleaved bucks can be implemented via digitally programmable control loops,” Figoli says. “A high-speed 32-bit math engine computes the loop regulation for all rails while concurrently providing intelligent power management either independently or via directions from the host CPU.”
Also integrated into the F28044 device are a high-speed 12-bit analog to digital converter (ADC), 128KB of flash memory and multiple communications ports with support for the PMBus™ interface.
The programmability of the controller is said to allow designers to build intelligence into power supply systems and simultaneously manage in real-time the sequencing, margining, phase compensation, and transient response of multiple DC/DC converters. “The F28044…is supported by an easy-to-use programming/development environment and an extensive range of modular software blocks covering all the power supply functions a designer requires to implement industry-known power topologies,” Figoli says. “This family [of controllers] offers all the friendly ‘MCU-style’ peripherals plus power centric ones, allowing customers to interface easily to their application. A key benefit of such a flexible architecture promotes customers to create their own differentiated intellectual property.”

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Texas Instruments

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