Infineon presents Software-Defined AC-DC Power Conversion

May 21, 2015 by Power Pulse1595211359

During this week's PCIM Europe conference in Nuremberg, Germany, Mark Fahlenkamp with Infineon Technologies AG, presented a paper titled "Software Defined Digital Power Conversion in Medium to Low Power AC-DC SMPS Applications," in which he discussed the need to "adapt to different load conditions and exploit the capabilities of non-linear control" and thereby maximize the performance of ac-dc power converters. According to Fahlenkamp, "the highest design flexibility can only be properly supported by a software defined digital power conversion approach."

“The trade-off between firmware and hardware partitioning is being driven by system optimization trends. The new software defined power approach tries to overcome the system limitations of analog or digital state machine controllers, and enable the system designer an opportunity for more innovation. At the same time, the IC architecture is targeted to support an optimized system bill of materials and lower current consumption compared to the standard DSP and microcontroller devices,” Fahlenkamp continued.

He proposed the development of a low-cost, low-pin-count IC with the following features: Analog signals are measured and digitized by an ADC; Embedded CPU offers flexibility and intelligence; Embedded gate driver enables dynamic gate control and support low system BOM; High voltage start-up cell enables low standby power at reduced system BOM; Protection peripherals ensure safe operation in all conditions; and Dedicated power conversion peripherals enable fast response and offload the CPU.

Fahlenkamp commented: “Real-time functionality needs to be properly addressed to limit the requirements on CPU performance and the VCC current consumption.”

He summarized his proposals with the following three points: Only a software defined power conversion approach fully exploits the digital control opportunities including; Highest flexibility to foster new innovations; Shortest time to innovation for mass production; and Offers optimization for the entire chain of cost contributors.

The software defined power approach can be successful in the ac-dc consumer segment if either; the reduction of the total system cost is proven; or the system requirements can’t be supported by available hard coded ICs. And a dedicated controller IC architecture has to provide; the lowest component count and low pin count by high forward integration to be competitive against “hard coded” controllers; a lean integrated digital core system to limit IC product cost and current consumption; and optimized partitioning of firmware and hardware functions to be prepared for future system requirements.