Ericsson's 3E Design Kit Enables Easier Exploration of Digital Power Architectures



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Enhanced performance, Energy management, and End-user value are the key design objectives of Ericsson's 3E range of digitally-controlled dc-dc converters. The newly-expanded product family comprises two intermediate-bus converters that source up to 240 and 396 W to power a choice of complementary 3E point-of-load regulators that can each supply 12 - 40 A. A second generation of the design kit, with extended features, now simplifies their implementation within PMBus(TM) systems. The 3E Gold Edition design kit hardware comprises two boards that accommodate one or two intermediate-bus converters and up to six point-of-load regulators. Sample devices include the BMR453 and BMR454 intermediate-bus converters together with examples of the 12A BMR462, 20A BMR463, and 40A BMR464 point-of-load regulators. The boards can operate independently or be plugged together to form a representative PMBus-controlled power system. Users have only to add a suitable power supply and test equipment to create a development environment that can realistically mirror a target application. The design kit includes a USB-to-PMBus adapter that provides a seamless interface between the 3E GUI Gold Edition software running on a Windows® PC and the target 3E family dc-dc converters. The 3E GUI Gold Edition software package together with an extensive library of technical papers and supporting information that accompanies the hardware elements can be download from Ericsson Power Modules website. At power-on, the software scans the PMBus to discover which devices are present. It then continually reads and displays each converter's key operating parameters--its input and output voltages, output current, and on-chip temperature--at intervals that users can specify. The Device Monitor window graphs these details for a selected device as it runs, while the System Monitor window tracks the status of all devices connected to the PMBus. Particularly useful for troubleshooting, the PMBus Transaction Log records and displays time-stamped data exchanges across the bus as the software runs. Unique to Ericsson, the 3E GUI Gold supports heterogeneous combination of devices that fulfill the PMBus Specification rev 1.1. This makes it possible to scan and monitor other PMBus units connected to the system. The Basic & Protection Configuration pane allows users to enter an array of values that define how each converter operates using simple graphical controls that simplify device programming. Available parameters include output voltage levels, delay and slew-rate values for power-supply sequencing in multi-rail applications, warning and fault thresholds for adverse voltage, current, and temperature conditions, and fault-recovery behavior. A voltage margining facility makes it easy to test the susceptibility of load circuitry to voltage variations. The Advanced Configuration facilities divide into standard and device-specific configuration screens that make available the standard PMBus command set and commands that the manufacturer defines for device-specific control purposes. The standard configuration commands provide a device-level method for programming and reading data that mirrors the data formats and values that are exchanged over the PMBus. Device-specific commands comprise special facilities that range from reading a device's firmware version to trimming its loop compensation parameters. A Shortcuts pane accesses common operations such as temporarily saving user-defined parameters to a converter's RAM to test a new configuration, and storing proven parameters to the device's Flash memory for use following a power-up. A Reload control overwrites the device's RAM with the contents of its Flash to quickly restore former states. Providing a method for saving configuration information for future re-use, such as when programming production devices, the Save configuration and Load configuration controls use disk files to save and retrieve converter configurations. "The 3E Gold Edition software makes it easier than ever for users to precisely configure each converter in a system and monitor its performance, which in turn encourages users to explore and develop methods such as dynamic bus-voltage control that can optimize system-level power consumption to accommodate the wide load variations that today's network infrastructures present" said Patrick Le Fèvre, marketing director at Ericsson Power Modules.