Green Plug Demonstrates How New Chip Hurdles Barriers to Adoption of Digital Control in AC-DC Power Conversion Apps

January 09, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

Green Plug is demonstrating how its Green Power Processor™ (GPP) technology eliminates the major barriers to broad adoption of digital control in ac-dc power conversion applications.

Green Plug uses a virtual 90W QRC power adapter to demonstrate how its GPP mixed-signal controller optimized for power conversion applications can help manufacturers reduce power product development cycle time by using GPP’s embedded tools to configure all major design elements in real time and without increasing manufacturing costs. By contrast, changes to analog circuits can take weeks.

Digital controllers in power adapters yield faster product development cycle times and allow for richer, mutually aware control algorithms and superior, non-linear behavior, dynamic tuning and better diagnostics with predictive failure analysis.

"Green Plug’s approach is a novel architecture where a single controller can be rapidly adapted to meet the requirements of many different power supply topologies, including QRC, LLC, Half Bridge, Full Bridge and more," said Frank P. Paniagua, Jr., founder and CEO of Green Plug. "The GPP also offers the potential to use programming and high-performance computing capability to develop new ways of delivering power. In the future, high switching frequencies for GaN devices may be ideal candidates for superior control algorithms possible with the GPP."

"Digitally controlled architectures for power conversion have been used primarily in high-end applications, but it is particularly efficient in applications featuring power factor correction (PFC)," said Jeff Shepard, publisher and president of Darnell Group, the leading source for worldwide strategic information covering the full spectrum of power electronics. "There is a growing correlation between PFC and digital power ICs designed for ac-dc power supplies. PFC is becoming a requirement in a growing number of ac-dc power supply applications, with efficiency gains possible when implementing advanced PFC topologies with digital control components."

"The ramifications of what Green Plug has accomplished are now beginning to take root with developers of power products for consumer electronics manufacturers and other more complex power systems," said Jonathan Meyers, managing director and head of Technology Investment Banking for Caris & Company. "Green Plug’s GPP and related communication technologies offer licensing opportunities across multiple market segments, from small power hubs to digital control of power supplies and mid-range connections to the Smart Grid."

While the GPP provides control and communication on the power supply, another Green Plug innovation, the Green Load Processor (GLP), provides communication and functionality on the electronic device. When enabled along with Green Plug’s GreenTalk™ digital communication software and hardware protocol stack and GreenWire™ multi-function physical layer technology, manufacturers have the flexibility to offer power adapters that can communicate changes in power requirements, such as higher or lower voltage, or to shut off completely when not in use.

According to Paniagua, Green Plug recognized that the price-sensitive nature of the ac-dc power conversion market would first require the development of a cost-neutral solution before its grand vision of integrating small plug load appliances into the Smart Grid could be achieved. Traditional processors for power conversion were either too simplistic, power hungry or inappropriately sized and too expensive for the high-volume ac-dc power conversion market. Consequently, most smart processors use digital control for dc-dc applications where one controller can actually lower costs in the management of multiple power rails. In ac-dc power conversion applications, however, a single input ac voltage normally is converted to a single dc output.