Distributed-Power Open Standards Alliance (DOSA) Defines Digital Point of Load Standards

September 15, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

The Distributed-power Open Standards Alliance (DOSA), a global association dedicated to furthering compatibility and standardization in the dc-dc board mounted power conversion market, recently approved specification standards for the "Third Generation, High Density, Non-Isolated PICO converter" for the PICO (12 x 12mm) format.

The third generation standard is based on the addition of new interconnects to enable new features and digital communication while maintaining the integrity of the second generation connections and dimensions. This allows the highest design flexibility with the opportunity to use previous generation products on the new footprint, or alternatively use new generation products with existing circuit board footprints. While the standard establishes the new connectivity for digital communication, it is not restricted to digital POLs. The standard applies to both analog and digital non-isolated POLs and creates allowances for additional new features such as differential remote sense and synchronization.

The new standards include provisions for an I²C bus which may be implemented with Power Management Bus (PMBus™) protocol functionality. Digital power provides access to critical load information, including current and voltage, enabling the system to monitor the power consumption at the highest possible resolution – at the processor or load. It also allows for control of the module enabling system optimization at a previously inaccessible level. The benefits of digital power are still being defined, but this standard allows for the rapid, low risk exploration of the benefits of this new capability. The standards also allow for improved thermal de-rating by increasing the thermal coupling between a module and a customer’s board, enabling higher current densities without significant current de-rating at higher temperatures.

"DOSA continues to standardize digital dc-dc power conversion products to facilitate multi-vendor compatibility," said Mohan Mankikar, President of Micro-Tech Consultants. "Power design engineers worldwide can continue to adopt digital power solutions to reduce risk and accelerate development schedules while leveraging multi-vendor sourcing efficiency."