Paving the way for power management
As our world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the demand for power will only continue to increase. Following a vibrant APEC 2019, held in California in March, Electronic Specifier Editor Joe Bush caught up with Anoop Chadaga, Product Marketing Manager, Texas Instruments, to find out what the company’s focus was at the show.
He commented: “As TI is the largest analogue semiconductor manufacturer in the world we are heavily investing in technologies that can address these power management needs.”
What are the key trends and challenges that customers are seeing in power management?
Low EMI: Minimising interference with other system components and simplify the engineer’s design and qualification process. Electromagnetic indifference is a key challenge across a number of industries particularly industrial and automotive.
Power density: Integrating as many active and passive components as possible and safely and reliably achieve size reduction goals.
Low Iq: Extending battery and shelf life enables more functionality, improved lifetime and reduced system cost. This becoming a big trend, particularly in battery operated or light load applications where you want to draw as little current as possible yet have very high efficiency.
Low noise: Reducing of shifting noise simplifies the power chain and improves reliability for precision analogue applications. For power applications you need to improve your reliability and precision and low noise is critical for this.
Isolation: Enabling the highest working voltage and highest reliability in high voltage and safety critical applications. As we switch to higher voltages via the use of silicon carbide and GaN we need to make sure that isolation and reliability are key factors with regards to safety.
So why TI?
Chadaga commented: “We took a step back and decided that we weren’t going to just develop products with the intention of being the next big thing in the market. We wanted to see what our customers really cared about, and address that. And if we can anticipate some emerging trends that we can address with our devices, and be the first in the market, we can achieve a leg-up on our competition.
“We have around 30,000 power devices in our portfolio and we have a really experienced power team with over 30 years of experience and some of the best power engineers work at Texas Instruments.
“We also offer tools and reference designs that can really help customers get to their end goal quickly. Reference designs are a great way for customers to quickly download best use cases for our new products which they can use as they are or they get ideas from these designs which they use to evolve their own.”
APEC focus (full product stories can be viewed by clicking on the link)
LM5164 / LM5164-Q1: “This device is the industry’s first 100V 10μA low Iq buck converter. This helps us extend battery life in rugged industrial and automotive applications and reduce solution size, which in-turn addresses the power density challenge mentioned earlier.
High light load efficiency: Very low 10μA typical standby quiescent current improves light load efficiency and extends battery life. Use case examples would be applications such as drones or e-scooters/e-bikes, power tools etc, all battery operated applications where recharging is required. “The concern we always hear from our customers was the issue of battery drain. Now with our 100V buck converter you can really extend this significantly.”
Shrink board space: The 5x6mm SOIC-8 package is 30% smaller than competitive devices and the 320mm2 solution size is ten percent smaller. “The SOIC-8 package is a tried and tested package in the market. People are familiar with it and it is used in the broad industrial space. It can achieve a high junction temperature of 150°C – so from the perspective of thermal performance it helps significantly.
“We have also integrated as many external components as possible which is how we have achieved the size reduction.”
Simplified design: Low BOM count due to (Constant-on-Time) COT architecture and reduced transient suppression circuitry, with familiar SOIC-8 package and full WEBENCH support. “This really helps customers reduce the level of external components they need, so integration is increased significantly which reduces solution size.”
“Other applications include the HEV/EV space. We are working with several customers in this space who really love our 100V devices and the reduced battery drain achieved with the low Iq.”
The LM5164LM5164 / LM5164LM5164-Q1 EVM evaluation board is available now:
TPS7A78: “This is a smart AC/DC linear regulator that achieves a very high power density and efficiency. We call it ‘smart’ because it integrates three components – the switch cap regulator, the active bridge control and the LDO – as a result this also addresses the high power density challenge.
“In traditional device topology capacitor-drop solutions are commonly used. This is a very cheap and dirty method of converting an AC voltage down to 3V, 3.3V or 5V. It is commonly used in applications like metering, and even though it’s easy to use it comes with a lot of efficiency challenges.
High power density: Achieves up to 75% efficiency with high power density. “Also, capacitor-drop solutions generate a lot of heat, however, with the TPS7A78 you can significantly reduce power consumption which can regulate with around 5mW of power.
Low power operation: Reduces standby power by up to 75%.
Small, integrated design: Eliminates up to 26 discrete components including the bridge rectifier. “So from a customer perspective you have a very integrated, low solution cost device for your application. It also doesn’t have any magnetic components which makes it particularly well suited for grid infrastructure and metering applications.
“There are stringent magnetic tamper-proof standards like the EIC61400-4-8 and since this device doesn’t have any magnetic components we can very easily meet these standards which is a key factor why some of our smart metering customers are using this device.”
The TPS7A78 evaluation board is available now:
UCC217xx family: “This device addresses the need for advanced performance, protection and reliability. This is TI’s first isolated galvanic gate driver with integrated sensing for IGBTs and SiC MOSFETs. This device saves energy and protects high voltage systems.”
Enhanced system performance: High peak drive strength of ±10A maximises switching behaviour and reduces losses, while 200ns of overcurrent detection enables fast system protection.
Strengthened system level reliability: Extends insulation barrier lifetimes with capacitive isolation technology and industry leading reinforced isolation ratings with surge immunity up to 12.8kV.
Reduced system size: Eliminate external components with integrated buffers and sensors while providing accurate temperature, current or voltage sensing, with an isolated analogue-to-pulse width modulation sensor. “This is a trend that I’ve been talking about with all these devices and that’s the goal. How do we help customers get to their final designs in a smaller, faster more cost-effective way?
The UCC21710-Q1 evaluation board is available now
“This is our opto-compatible gate driver which offers advanced performance and reliability. What we mean by opto-compatible is that it is a pin-to-pin standard replacement for optocoupler-based isolated gate drivers. Traditionally when people have used optocouplers the system challenges were how to reduce additional components and how to improve performance.
“A typical optocoupler gate driver would have LEDs as inputs, silicon for isolation and a photodetector on the output side to sense the signal. With our device we have an emulated diode as an input so it’s not an LED, but just like an IC it will convert current into a high frequency signal that is transmitted through the isolation barrier to the output stage, which is the unique feature of this device.”
Protection and reliability: Protects against transients with 179% higher CMTI ratings compared to traditional optocoupler gate drivers.
Industrial performance: Allows for operation in harsh conditions with widest junction temperature range at -40°C to 150°C – an average of 25° higher than traditional optocoupler gate drivers.
Minimal design effort: Pin-out and package compatible to commonly used optocoupler gate drivers, with ready-to-use design resources available to enable quick time to market.
“The real aim with this device is to provide pin-to-pin compatibility so customers don’t have to worry about redesigning their board to incorporate this new device. This is a drop-in replacement that requires minimal changes to design and customers can plug-in and play with this device.”
The UCC23513 evaluation board is available now
Integrated motor drives are a major focus in factory automation due to the need for increased efficiency, reduced installation cost and more space on the factory floor. Previously, this has not been possible due to the performance limitations of silicon FETs and the size of drives. Now, GaN is making this a reality.
“TI introduced GaN at APEC around two years ago with our LMG5200 GaN module which rated up to 80V. Now we have more devices in this space with the LMG3410x family which can go up to 600V. We’re really thinking about the entire ecosystem – integrating other components and these modules have become very popular as these extra components that customers need for their designs are already integrated in this GaN module.
“GaN is relatively new and is quite a complex technology so TI is heavily investing in packaging and product development. To make it even easier we do everything in-house. So we have our own high voltage GaN process, fab, and assembly, so we control the entire ecosystem. With that we can see the challenges that customers really care about and how we can address them.
“Robustness and reliability are two key customer requirements – so we offer 720V surge capability while switching; 100ns short-circuit protection; thermal protection; >30 million hours of reliability testing to date; and <1 Failures In Time (FIT) rate for a ten year life time.
“Type of applications we’re going after in this space are ACF, PFC, LLC, inverters, all the way up to 10kW.”
The picture below shows where the technology was with traditional silicon-based products and where GaN is taking us with the significant reduction in size, power consumption and smaller heatsinks. “There is so much power being driven in such a small real estate – it’s really impressive.”
“At the moment the popularity of GaN is high but there are not many vendors out there who are offering entire solutions. People are getting different components from different vendors so the technology is not fully established quite yet. Going forward, as GaN becomes more mainstream, volumes will increase and prices will come down.
“The good thing for TI is that we have our own fab, and we own the technology, so as a result it is highly optimised compared to our competition and that is one of the winning factors we have. We’re in control so we can work with our customers on pricing based on demand.
“One of the biggest challenges that customers have is that mind shift where they are used to their silicon-based servo drive. So can they and their customers see the value of switching to GaN, and are they willing to pay more for the advantages it can bring? This is of course happening which is why we’re investing in the technology but it is a gradual process.”
The LMG3411R150 evaluation board is available now