Darnell White Paper Compares Design Flows for PSiP/MicroModule/PwrSoC Technologies

April 23, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

Darnell Group has just-released a Free white paper quantifying the relative ease of design for a PSiP/MicroModule/PwrSoC design flow used in a 5A dc-dc regulator for an FPGA or similar load vs. a "typical" dc-dc regulator "down" solution. In order to do this, the Darnell Group qualified and validated the design steps for a general PSiP/MicroModule/PwrSoC design configuration by conducting a series of surveys comparing a typical DC-DC Regulator design flow with a comparable PSiP/MicroModule/PwrSoC design flow. Respondents included representatives from a variety of leading server, storage, data communications, personal computer and telecommunications industries in the US, China and Europe. A few of the key findings include:

-- The duration of the design process for the PSiP/MicroModule/PwrSoC design flow takes 45.0% less man hours to complete than a dc-dc regulator "down solution." (Man-hours are defined as a combination of both gross design steps and design iterations)

-- The dc-dc regulator design flow is a much more complex process and with design iterations included, takes over 2.8 times as many steps to complete.

-- Even with the use of today’s web-based tools, it still takes an average of 464 man-hours to complete a dc-dc regulator design flow vs. only 254 man-hours to complete a PSiP/MicroModule/PwrSoC design. This is for a simple 5A regulator design flow, for a more complex design, the process could take 20-40% longer.

In addition to the questionnaire, each of the individuals contacted was sent an illustration comparing 14 specific steps it takes to design a typical dc-dc regulator (the 14 steps identified in typical dc-dc design process were validated by over 150 engineers representing a variety of fields worldwide) with the 6 steps it was determined to take to design a PSiP/MicroModule/PwrSoC configuration. The illustration describing the design flows for these two technologies was used as a basis for the questions asked in the surveys.

All of the respondents agreed that the design flows for both the typical dc-dc regulator and PSiP/MicroModule/PwrSoC configurations seemed reasonable and correct and acknowledged that the implementation resulted in a 57% reduction in gross design flow steps. The findings of this white paper confirm that PwrSoC and PSiP technologies appear to be achieving the goals of eliminating the need for external components, providing a smaller alternative, and a simplified and shorted design flow.

In this white paper, sponsored by Enpirion Inc., a dc-dc regulator is defined as a dc-dc converter IC that uses a switching element to transform the dc supply into an alternating current, which is then converted to a different voltage using capacitors, inductors, and other elements, then converted back to dc. The circuit includes regulation and filtering components to insure a steady output. Advantages include the ability to generate voltages beyond the input supply range, higher power handling capability, and efficiency; disadvantages include complexity and relatively higher cost. A disadvantage of Converter/Regulator ICs is that they require the addition of external components such as inductors, capacitors and/or resistors.

You can download a copy of "Ease of Design Comparison For a PSiP/MicroModule/PwrSoC Design Flow Process" here.