Buck converters deliver high voltage automotive power solutions

10th January 2019
Lanna Cooper


Maxim Integrated has announced power-management ICs offering a small solution size and high efficiency to help automotive designers meet space and power challenges of next-gen automotive applications. As digital instrument clusters, radio head units and electronic subsystems require ever higher levels of compute power. 

These high power buck converters and high power, multiphase buck controllers empower designers to balance low power consumption with high efficiency and electromagnetic interference (EMI) mitigation.

As automotive systems become more sophisticated with increasing levels of electronic components, higher power microprocessors are required to control and supervise their functionality.

This adoption of more powerful instrument clusters, USB hubs, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and infotainment and navigation systems is driving ten percent annual growth for power-management ICs through 2026, according to analyst firm IHS Markit.

This growth pattern is presenting designers with multiple challenges for managing power consumption, efficiency, EMI and solution size to achieve the performance needed in harsh, space-constrained automotive operating environments.

To ensure designers meet these goals, Maxim’s array of automotive-grade ICs provide many options to manage the DC power as automotive OEMs transition from processors that consume 20W of power to artificial intelligence platforms that consume as much as 500W.

With a package size of 3.5x3.75mm, according to the company Maxim’s buck converters offer the industry’s smallest solution size. Their flip-chip quad-flat no-leads (FCQFN) packaging reduces high frequency switch node ringing and eliminates bond wires to lower MOSFET switch on-resistance and increase efficiency.

According to the company, Maxim offers the industry’s only pin-compatible parts for four, six and eight amps for flexible power regulation. All of the ICs feature spread-spectrum modulation, high switching frequency, forced pulse-width modulation and skip-mode operation for suitable performance.

Maxim’s newest automotive power-management ICs for high voltage power applications include:

  • MAX20004, MAX20006 and MAX20008 4A, 6A and 8A high voltage (40V tolerant) synchronous buck converters with integrated high side and low side MOSFETs, according to the company offering the industry’s lowest switch resistance of 38 and 18mΩ, respectively, for high efficiency. Key advantages of these pin-compatible devices include 25µA quiescent current, operating input voltages from 3.5-36V and 93% peak efficiency. All are available in a compact 3.5x3.75mm, 17-pin side-wettable QFN package that reduces high frequency switch node and improves efficiency.
  • MAX20098 220kHz to 2.2MHz synchronous buck controller for applications with mid- to high power requirements operating with input voltages from 3.5-36V (42V tolerant). For efficiency, this device features a quiescent current of 3.5µA in skip mode at 3.3V output  along with a 1µA typical shutdown current specification. Its 3x3mm side-wettable QFN package reduces solution size, and the IC requires few external components, enabling a two-layer PCB design.
  • MAX20034 220kHz to 2.2MHz dual synchronous buck controller for high voltage applications operating with input voltages from 3.5-36V (42V tolerant), where one regulator will operate as a fixed 5-3.3V output and the other output is adjustable between 1-10V. Key efficiency advantages include 17µA quiescent current in skip mode and 6.5µA typical shutdown current. The device is available in a 5x5mm side-wettable QFN package, and it provides up to 2.2MHz switching frequency to enable smaller external components and total solution size.

“Power semiconductors in automotive are projected to grow to more than $13.7bn by 2023,” said Kevin Anderson, Senior Analyst for Power ICs at IHS Markit.

“One of the high growth areas is the digital cockpit where engineers are introducing new features, more functionality and more powerful systems while staying within a finite area and power budget.”

“Today’s vehicles are powerful computers on wheels, with digital instrument clusters, radio head units and related subsystems requiring increasingly higher levels of compute power,” said Chintan Parikh, Executive Business Manager for the Automotive Business Unit at Maxim Integrated.

“Power supply designs must carefully balance low power consumption, high efficiency and EMI mitigation in order to meet the design challenges of these high voltage applications. High-power buck converters and multiphase, high power buck controllers play a critical role in enabling this technology.”

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