Digital power is an oxymoron to some people, but it really shouldn’t be. While many (old-school?) designers think that power is analogous to analog, that’s not necessarily the case anymore. In fact, digital power has many advantages over traditional analog power.
It can produce higher system efficiency. For example, power stages can be varied intelligently in real time in a much more efficient manner. System monitoring is less complex and more accurate by tying the power system to the rest of the system’s digital control. And system integration could be higher as the functionality of digital components can be combined with existing functionality.
Another feature of digital power is the ability to upgrade a system through software, even after the system has been deployed. Wouldn’t that be a nice feature to have? Examples of readily available digital power products include FET regulators and PWM controllers.
Intersil recently developed digital power technology through its Zilker Labs division that builds intelligence into the silicon, allowing the devices to be easily configured through pin-strap options or by using PMBus commands. The products are based on what the company calls its Digital-DC technology. In addition, Intersil’s PowerNavigator software makes it easy to change all features and functions of a digital power supply design using a simple graphical user interface.
To learn more about the ins and out of digital power, and to see how it can benefit your design, I suggest you attend Day 3 of the three-part series Embedded University: Analog/Power.