Powervation Brings Auto-Control Digital Power-Conversion Chip To Market

June 14, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

Powervation announced the availability of the PV3002, the company’s inaugural product and the industry’s first Auto-control™ digital power-conversion IC. The new chip is aimed at electronic systems used in computing, NetComms and storage applications where it brings fully automatic adaptive control to dc-dc conversion for the first time.

Powervation states that designers of power supplies now have an intelligent "no compromises" solution that is impervious to variations in component values and applications context, making it easier to build complex designs that conform to today’s stringent energy-efficient standards.

According to the company, at half the size of comparative analog solutions, the PV3002 can reduce total system component counts by as much as 50%. This advantage is said to cut system costs and improve Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF). In beta tests at multiple customer sites, the chip demonstrated efficiency gains of more than 10% for light-load configurations while improving stability and transient performance. Moreover, at the system level, the PV3002 is said to enable digital power management at no extra cost, delivering energy savings of up to 30% and reducing overall cost of ownership by 30%.

Powervation states that it achieves these breakthroughs via its unique Auto-control technology that empowers engineers with new ease-of-design capabilities and eliminates the time-consuming challenge of accounting for the production tolerances of all components in the control loop. Unlike conventional analog regulators that use external components and require complex calculations to compensate the controller, Powervation’s Auto-control regulates and monitors the output voltage on a cycle-by-cycle basis and automatically compensates for variations in line, load, capacitance and inductance. The key driver of this capability is "MOJO", a single parameter that is used to adjust the loop compensation (poles, zeros and gain) to guarantee stability and best performance. The result is "true" adaptive control that eliminates the need for the designer to compensate the control loop. For designers of power supplies, this plug-and-power breakthrough can cut design time from weeks to days.

With Auto-control at its core, the PV3002 is custom-built for computing, NetComms, storage and other applications where a more efficient power supply has become a key competitive differentiator. Here, the PV3002 is said to exert a considerable advantage. For instance, in advanced networking equipment such as mid-range Ethernet switches where there may be as many as 150 different voltage rails in a single switch fabric, optimizing power management across the entire system is extraordinarily complex. With true adaptive control, the PV3002 intelligently distributes the power, enabling the system to consistently operate at peak efficiency.

According to Powervation’s Vice President of Marketing, Benoit Herve, the PV3002 represents a fundamental shift in power-supply design and solves the most pressing performance, reliability and cost challenges facing designers. "It is the first product in the industry to reliably adapt power conversion to changing system behavior and unpredictable variations, and guarantees unprecedented stability over a wide range of conditions throughout the lifetime of the system. Customers report that with Auto-control, they can breach the performance barriers that have limited traditional digital power technologies�a breakthrough that offers unprecedented ease-of-use and new efficiency advantages," concluded Herve.

The PV3002 is available in a space-saving 5 x 5mm³ QFN package and is fully specified over the -40 to +85°C temperature range. Prices start at $2.75 each for 1000-piece quantities.