GE’s Power Module Wizard Takes the Guesswork out of Board Design

December 16, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

GE's Critical Power business has launched its cloud-based Power Module Wizard, providing board designers with an intuitive tool to help them easily select the optimal dc-dc modules for their power board. The Power Module Wizard helps board designers select the right power module on the first try, improving design productivity, reducing risks and virtually eliminating the need to rework their designs.

“Previously, assorted board design and testing solutions needed to be individually downloaded and run separately by a designer,” said Karim Wassef, general manager of the Embedded Products product line for GE’s Critical Power business. “Our new Power Module Wizard provides users with an innovative board design tool that integrates various design, optimization and testing capabilities into a user-friendly, cloud-based solution, empowering customers to make informative decisions on their dc-dc power solutions. It is among the first Web-based tools from a dc-dc module manufacturer to provide such a comprehensive set of rapid board design features.”

The Power Module Wizard uses desired or required specifications set forth by a board designer to generate a list of possible dc-dc modules that would be acceptable for their current board design. Board designers can enter a variety of basic search parameters—such as available input voltage, desired output voltage and current, maximum ambient temperature, minimum airflow and maximum allowable height—to help narrow the module selection. Once a list is compiled, modules are ranked by weighted user-selected preferences such as cost, density or efficiency. If preferred, the designer has the option to skip this stage and review the schematic generated from just the first level of requirements laid out.

The Power Module Wizard helps to eliminate the need for multiple test and configuration tools—such as GE’s Tunable Loop Tool, Stability Tool, Point of Load (POL) Programming Tool, Power Module Selector Tool and Power System Designer—by incorporating technology from each to provide a complete set of board design capabilities in a single, easy-to-use solution. In addition, the solution’s system design tool provides board designers with a variety of module combinations that specifically match the voltage needs of the application being designed.

As a cloud-based solution, the Power Module Wizard enables designers to access the tool from any Web-connected computer. It is available online and free of charge. Other tools require vendor approval or licensed installations of the application to operate on a designer’s computer. In addition to the online tool, an off line simulation-only version is available for locations with restricted web access.

Based on user specifications, the Power Module Wizard creates a schematic to show the complete circuit of the selected module and all connected external components. From this schematic, a set of four simulation tools (stability analysis, averaged load transient, switched load transient and ripple current and voltage) can be used to check the robustness of the design and the specified performance of the module. To optimize the solution, various external components throughout the schematic can be edited or reconfigured to enhance the design without having to restart the entire design process.

Once simulation results are within the desired range, a bill of materials with estimated pricing can be generated from the tool, providing the board designer with the necessary information he/she needs to start production of the application. In addition, a summary report with information on the specifications, parts selected and simulation results can be generated and exported in a PDF document, which can be shared among design team members, enabling simplified collaboration on the design and production of the board.