High power density industrial power management

May 27, 2015 OpenSystems Media

Held at the One Aldwyck Hotel in London’s Strand, I was invited to a presentation and Q&A detailing Intersil‘s latest investment in the industrial power management arena to which they demonstrate a continued commitment. Today the industrial and infrastructure markets are responsible for nearly two-thirds of Intersil’s annual turnover, that achieved in part by their continued investment of 20 percent back into core R&D – which means today they hold more than 1,000 technology patents.

Of particular highlight they boast the highest power density within an 18 mm x 23 mm package on the market, however this isn’t a statistic purely of vanity. The industry trend of miniaturisation and reducing of bill-of-materials cost both drove its development; combined with the simultaneous trend of the increasing number of power rails and power requirements of today’s ever hungry DSPs and FPGAs, this naturally led to the development of their latest announcement, the ISL8117 60 V Synchronised Buck Controller. Filling an industry gap where current controllers with 60 V input fall short of 10 A load current, the ISL8117 encompassing over 20 A.

The ISL8117′s raison d’être addresses all three: reducing both development and unit costs, simplifying design, and lowering real estate requirements. Traditionally, dropping from industry standard 24/48 V power inputs required an intermediary stage, reducing input voltage to (say) 12 V, before finally dropping to core voltages required by ICs, typically 1.8 V & 3.3 V. The ISL8117 negates that need altogether by enabling substantial DC/DC drop, without the middle-man, from 48 V to 1 V – an industry first, with current solutions stopping at 3.3 V. By achieving a higher voltage input further down the power chain (having removed the intermediary) distribution power loss is minimised through the lower current necessary and removing a bill-of-materials line item entirely.

Such a feat is achieved with an adjustable frequency double their competitors, which additionally enables greater flexibility when designing, widening the parameters available for designers to choose where they draw the line between size and efficiency. The innovative use of a Valley Current Mode control system enables this frequency range between 100 KHz to 2 MHz.

Whilst Intersil presented target applications for the ISL8117 covering Telecommunications, Networking, Security, Surveillance and Test & Measurement equipment. Whilst these could be described as industrial (in that they aren’t commercial) the real meat for such a product is surely targeting applications with industrial environmental requirements, where the ISL8117′s -40 °C to 125 °C operational temperature opens doors for numerous factory automation applications and conceivably introduction into the automotive market in the future.

Paying homage to that industry trend of simplifying design, Intersil have achieved the above with fewer pin numbers than their competitors, alongside assigning those pins to align with default design settings, translating to a reduced complexity thus lower cost and lower risk design process.

To aid rapid development further they are releasing two reference designs. The first, a low power version designed for robotics and security applications and supporting 4.5-60 V input with 3.3 V output at 6 A. The second, designed for higher voltage telecommunications and power modules, offers 18-60 V input with 12 V output at 20 A. Finally, the aim of reducing BOM cost always inherently relies on the unit cost of the item itself, more than satisfied by both the QFN and HTSSOP variants, at price points of $1.80 and $1.95 respectively at 1K quantities.

As their tag line suggests, Intersil truly are “Powering Industrial Applications”.

Rory Dear, European Editor/Technical Contributor
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