A fully integrated, accurate (±0.3 percent), quad-channel digital power-supply controller which offers a PMBus interface for programming, sequencing, monitoring, and margining power supplies has been introduced by Maxim Integrated Products.
The MAX16064 can be connected to up to four all-analog low-cost power supplies to create a fully programmable, accurate, digital power-management solution. Using the existing analog power-management solutions, the device claims to provide control and monitoring capabilities that were previously only available in all-digital power supplies. The MAX16064 digital controller is designed for high-performance, high-reliability systems with multiple power supplies. Applications include servers, storage devices, switches, base stations, routers, and networking equipment.
High-performance systems like servers, switches, and routers force power supplies to have some intelligence. The MAX16064 meets, and exceeds, these requirements by providing flexible monitoring, precise sequencing, and intelligent fault management. The controller also saves cost because customers no longer need to purchase expensive digital power supplies for the system(s). The MAX16064 allows any off-the-shelf power supply to perform PMBus control. This flexibility allows the user to make on-the-fly power-supply adjustments and avoid costly last-minute BOM changes.
The MAX16064 closes a slow loop around the power supply to bring the industry's highest accuracy and control in setting the output voltage. By tapping into the enable, feedback node, and/or reference input, the MAX16064 provides unmatched tracking, sequencing, and fine setting of the output voltage with ±0.3 percent accuracy over the operating temperature.
By storing fault data in external EEPROM, the MAX16064 also eases the process of identifying and debugging failures. The controller can poll each power supply at fixed intervals and log the information intelligently for future analysis. This is beneficial to customers, because it allows them to diagnose unrepeatable errors for failures during startup or normal operation.
The MAX16064 can also increase system reliability by margining up to four power supplies in the system. Margining system voltages is an effective means of stress-testing high-reliability systems. The feature is key for applications where field failures are unacceptable. Now manufacturers can identify failures during the manufacturing process, so their customers are not disrupted and costly product returns are avoided.
A graphical user interface (GUI) is supplied free of charge with the part. With no knowledge of digital-control theory or how to write software/firmware, any engineer can use this GUI and the MAX16064 to implement a digitally programmable power supply. This programmability is also a benefit to engineers and system integrators who do not want to discard legacy designs and risk a completely new architecture.
Using the GUI, customers can program the MAX16064. The programmed performance is repeatable and independent of component tolerances and lot-to-lot variations, which cannot be said for all analog solutions.
If the customer is controlling power in a module or in smaller systems, the MAX16064's user-programmable registers can also be stored in a low-cost external EEPROM. Then at power-up, the MAX16064 automatically retrieves the data and loads the registers without requiring a system controller. The module manufacturers simply load the MAX16064 with default values, which can then be overwritten by the end user. This can also help with smaller systems in which a few power supplies are to be tracked/sequenced and controlled, but monitoring is not necessarily important. In these applications no system controllers are needed; the MAX16064 can start up on its own and be self-supporting with preprogrammed parameters.
Availability and Pricing
The MAX16064 is available in a space-saving, 36-pin, lead-free, 6 mm x 6 mm TQFN package and is specified for the -40 to +85 degrees Celsius industrial temperature range. Prices start at $6.34 (1000-up FOB USA). Samples are now available.