This teardown article will delve into the architectural design and components of a solar inverter card starting from the Solar panel DC inputs and working our way through the DC to AC conversion process to the AC output that is sent out to the power grid. We will show what features need to be implemented into such a design to meet various safety and other performance standards as well as stringent power company demands upon the signal that is put onto their grid.
In the process we will look at the major elements and component choices that were made in the design of the SMA "Sunny Boy" series of Solar inverters, from the EMI suppression capacitors from Vishay to the TMS320F2812 DSP by Texas Instruments, with a special emphasis on isolation and protection, through the smart use of optically isolated MOSFET gate drivers such as the HCPL-316J and HCPL-J312 from Avago.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.