Exar’s PowerArchitect 5.1 Offers Arduino Controller Option

July 27, 2014 by Jeff Shepard

Exar Corporation announced PowerArchitect 5.1, the latest release of its programmable power design tool. New features include support for Exar's development boards and the latest Universal PMICs, the XRP7720 and XRP7725 programmable power ICs. It also supports the new XRP9710 and XRP9711 Power Modules and adds time saving features to simplify and accelerate power system programming.

PowerArchitect 5.1 adds support to communicate with Exar evaluation boards through an Arduino board. Code examples for this board are also available. These include a command library and examples of how to use these commands. Instructions for turning the Arduino into a standalone programmer provide engineers new capabilities for prototyping, but the code quickly migrates to bed-of-nails full production test equipment.

Where the Exar Configuration Module (XCM) offers a simple pass through function, the Arduino platform provides a readily available development environment that allows engineers to develop code to leverage the capabilities of Exar’s programmable power products before their own hardware is available. Customers have used these capabilities in a wide range of unique applications from a fully dynamic and reconfigurable universal PMIC to power telemetry in Intel Node Manager enabled servers or remote re-configurability over a network.

PowerArchitect can be used to set or modify a host of parameters when using any of Exar’s growing range of Universal PMIC advanced programmable power management chips and modules. Through an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), users can create complex sequencing schemes as well as monitor and configure supply rails in real time. PowerArchitect is used to specify nominal input voltage, under-voltage lock out, the clock switching frequency of buck converters, and over temperature, over current and over voltage faults and warnings.

An upgraded wizard in this latest version of the tool suggests suitable switching frequencies and preferred external components. Once the design has been validated with the hardware, settings are saved to a project file. Then, if a problem occurs, the “Report an issue…” option will generate a file including all parameters stored in the IC which can be sent to [email protected] for the experts to provide assistance.

PowerArchitect 5.1 is feature-rich, but every parameter is accessible through one of just three main GUI tabs. Two other tabs give an overview of the tool and provide a placeholder for customer information. A pop-up window provides access to the “Dashboard”, where real time monitoring and dynamic control are available. In addition, the XRP7725 Intel Node Manager Compatible quad-output controller has its own unique pop-up window to bridge between the power hardware and the software engineer’s firmware. Customers can use this window to quickly calibrate the improved telemetry features of the XRP7725 for a given hardware design.

“The open source development environment provided by the Arduino platform lets engineers explore the possibilities enabled by Exar’s programmable power technologies,” said, James Lougheed, vice president, power management, Exar. “As PowerArchitect has matured, we’ve listened to our customers and developed features that allow them greater design flexibility, while ensuring that the GUI remains simple and easy to use.”