Digital made simple

February 26, 2013 // By Paul Buckley
The switch from analog to digital power supplies brings significant benefits to a system in terms of efficiency and optimization through real-time monitoring, the problems the technology solves are felt by almost all OEMs, regardless of size, but its use has been limited to major OEMs with significant resources. CUI’s Mark Adams looks at emerging industry trend for simplicity that will allow small and medium sized industrial SMEs to make the leap to digital and take advantage of this technology too.

It is almost impossible to have missed the digital revolution that’s happening in the power market. Engineering publications have been loaded with market analysts’ comments on the technology’s potential … and new digital power products from leading IC companies.
 
And whilst analysts argue about the digital power market’s exact rate of growth, virtually all agree it will far outpace the rest of the market.

Who is driving this growth for digital power?

One of the current debates calls into question where the industry lies on the 'Technology Adoption Lifecycle' curve. Understanding the level of adoption drives how quickly the market will grow. If the market is still in its infancy, exponential growth will not see fruition for some time. However, if the market has moved through an early adopter phase, near term market acceptance is more likely.

Tier-one computing, storage, networking, and telecom OEMs dominate today’s implementation of digital power. And since these companies drive a large percentage of sales, the semiconductor and power supply vendors in this market have, understandably, been driven to develop solutions to support their future requirements.

 

(Click on image to enlarge)

Figure 1: Market adoptions graph

But, this early adoption by tier-one companies is leading to a significant problem. It is adding complexity and the required application design support has limited the ability for smaller, resource-constrained companies, such as Europe’s industrial firms, to implement digital solutions.
 
In effect, it is creating a significant divide between the large companies that have resources to support such designs and those that do not.

Unfortunately, the power requirements of today’s designs are common across all companies, regardless of size, and include power management; sequencing and ramp rates, monitoring, and margining; fault detection and response; greater densities in board design; thermal management; lower voltages and tighter tolerances; higher currents; shorter design cycles.

And while the same FPGAs, DSPs and ASSPs are being used by all companies, the

Design category: