Power Integrations, SnapMagic Team Up for Power Supply Design Automation
This article examines the power supply unit design process, the benefits of automation, and the collaboration between Power Integrations and SnapMagic. Together, the companies are enabling truly automated power supply design.
With automation technology like artificial intelligence (AI) experiencing a significant boost in the past year or so, it’s only a matter of time until more industries start to adopt these technologies. In the past year, the electronics industry has begun to see the integration of AI into printed circuit boards (PCB) and electronics design, with companies like Flux and others leading the way.
Printed circuit board. Image used courtesy of Arizona State University
Recently, Power Integrations and SnapMagic combined their expertise to create a new means of automating the design of power supply units (PSUs).
The Basics of Power Supply Design
In any electronic system, the power supply is the critical backbone, converting electrical energy from one form to another to meet the system's operational needs.
The design process involves several interconnected steps. Initially, engineers define the input and output voltage, current, and other essential parameters and specifications such as ripple. Once these parameters are established, engineers must determine the correct architecture, such as power factor correction, totem pole, synchronous, and so on, and select the appropriate components, such as integrated circuits (ICs), transformers, capacitors, inductors, and other passive and actives, along with the appropriate values.
Functional block diagram of an AC/DC converter. Image used courtesy of Avnet
This schematic is then translated into a physical board design (or PCB layout), which outlines the placement of components and routing of electrical traces. The final step involves rigorous simulation and testing to validate the design's performance, reliability, and safety under various operating conditions.
Each step requires a high level of technical expertise and keen attention to detail. Even a minor oversight can result in inefficiencies, thermal issues, or even catastrophic system failure, underscoring the critical nature of each phase in power supply design.
The Need for Automation
As power supply design is so involved and difficult, the design process is notoriously labor-intensive and manual, making it both time-consuming and error-prone. Automation addresses these challenges head-on.
Automation significantly reduces the time to market for new products by generating designs much faster. It also minimizes the likelihood of human errors, enhancing the design's reliability and efficiency.
Most importantly, however, automation allows engineers to focus on more complex and innovative design aspects by freeing them from routine tasks. For example, design automation may automatically select components and their values, saving engineers from the hassle of calculating and setting these parameters themselves.
The Power Integrations and SnapMagic Collaboration
In their exciting new partnership, Power Integrations, a leader in high-voltage ICs for energy-efficient power conversion, has integrated SnapMagic's cutting-edge schematic export technology into its online design tool, PI Expert.
Power Integrations and SnapMagic are automating power supply design together. Image used courtesy of Power Integrations
This integration enables PI Expert to generate a complete power supply schematic based on user-defined specifications, including a custom magnetics design. After completing your design in PI Expert, navigate to the “File” menu and choose “Export Schematic.” A list of popular CAD tools appears for selection. PI Expert then automatically captures all the schematic symbols and footprints for every component in your design, including resistors, capacitors, and magnetics.
Video used courtesy of Power Integrations
The generated schematic can then be directly exported into popular PCB CAD tools supporting standard file formats, making the generated designs easy to access and iterate. The export includes all the necessary symbols, footprints, 3D models, and electrical netlists, ensuring a smooth transition from design to implementation.
The automated schematic also adheres to a consistent format optimized for readability, which aids in version control and traceability. By eliminating manual tasks, the collaboration shatters old timelines and allows engineers to focus on innovation.
Paradigm Shift for Power Supply Design
The collaboration between Power Integrations and SnapMagic represents a paradigm shift in power supply design. By automating critical yet often mundane aspects of the design process, this partnership empowers engineers to focus on innovation. Automation will play an increasingly vital role as the industry evolves, demanding faster, more efficient, and more reliable power supplies.