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Buck converter delivers efficiency, cuts footprint area

Posted: 06 Sep 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Enpirion? EP53x2Q? DC/DC converter?

When it comes to regulators, you have two design possibilities: linear and a switch mode design. The first one uses a linear regulator that takes a DC input voltage and outputs a DC voltage by modulating the loss across a resistor. It is a small size design with a low-part count. However, heat is a concern. The alternative to linear is a switch mode regulator that takes DC voltage, chops it up and averages the output to come up with an output voltage that is usually lower, but could also be higher output voltage. They have very high efficiency but they are more complicated and more sensitive to layout as well as more expensive.

Enpirion focused on a buck step-down DC/DC converter for this EP53x2Q. It has an integrated inductor, or said differently, it has all the magnetics inside the package. This reduces the complexity of the design and makes the footprint much smaller and reduces the part count. Simply stated, this design integrates everything except the input and output capacitors.

Enpirion unveiled its new line of ultra-integrated buck converters for low-power and portable applications, moving the footprint versus efficiency curve to its theoretical limit. The result halves the footprint area without compromising power efficiency. Enpirion's low-power products are the world's smallest power systems on silicon, integrating a PWM controller, MOSFET switches, compensation network and a power inductor, in a single 5-by-4-by-1.1mm QFN package. They are suited for portable handheld applications like smart phones, personal media players, mobile gaming platforms and any products where space is at a premium.

"These integrated power devices make the design of a high performance switching converter as easy as a linear regulator," said Michael Laflin, Enpirion's director of marketing. "They are so simple to use, we think of them as 'plug-and-play power'."

Innovation in power conversion
Enpirion's power devices represent the first major innovation in integrated power conversion technology in over a decade. The small footprint and low part count of the EP53x2Q chips make them the solution of choice for flexible portable system architectures where designers need to populate a diverse range of features tailored to specific customer requirements. The Enpirion devices are key in the ongoing trend to replace inefficient linear regulators with switching converters, extending battery life as performance and functionality increase.

"Enpirion has targeted an important segment of the market with these new products," stated Jeff Shepard, president of Darnell Group Inc. "These three devices span about 30 percent of the market for discrete DC/DC converters. Sales of discrete converters between 0.5A and 1A will be about 2.2 billion units in 2006."

The EP53x2Q converters operate at up to 5MHz switching frequency, which reduces the size of filter components and enables an order of magnitude improvement in transient performance. The 5mV peak-to-peak output voltage ripple is ideally suited to portable applications with sensitive RF subsystems. The integrated compensation network affords stability over all operating conditions with 10F to 60F of output filter capacitance. The EP53x2Q family of buck converters requires two ceramic filter capacitors for a complete solution. These devices have excellent transient performance and low output ripple.

The EP53x2Q family supports load currents of 500mA, 600mA and 800mA. The voltage output for the EP53x2Q is programmed using a 3-pin voltage select scheme allowing the designer to chose from one of seven pre-defined voltages, or an external divider may be used. The voltage select pins can be changed on the fly to implement dynamic voltage scaling.

"Integration of the inductor is key to simplifying DC/DC converter design," added Dr. Ashraf Lotfi, CTO of Enpirion. "Flawed layout or misplacement of the inductor is typically the source of instability and noise in converter design. Integrating this Enpirion component eliminates these problems, and the result is a turnkey design with the smallest footprint."

The EP53x2Q power devices are available immediately. Pricing in quantities of 1,000 units is $1.61 for the 800mA version, $1.55 for the 600mA version and $1.50 for the 500mA version.

- Paul O'Shea
Power Management DesignLine




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