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Power Electronics

Controller IC Employs Real-Time Adaptive Loop Compensation, PMBus

Controller IC combines power management and mixed-signal functions that implement adaptive control of closed loop compensation. This SoC consists of a DSP and RISC processor, RAM and non-volatile memory, power conversion blocks, SMBus serial interface, ADC and DAC, and timing sources.

Saying that Powervation’s PV3012 is a dual phase digital synchronous buck controller for point-of-load (POL) applications doesn’t adequately describe the IC. Even adding that the IC is PMBus™ compliant still doesn’t fully describe the PV3012.

In fact, the PV3012 is all of the above, plus real-time adaptive loop compensation technology called Auto-Control®. This patented digital control loop technology optimizes the trade-off between dynamic performance and system stability on a cycle-by-cycle basis without requiring any noise injection or other drawbacks of part-time measurement techniques. This is a key advantage for designs that drive imprecise or variable loads, and compensates for power supply component parameter drift that occurs over temperature and time. This approach also relieves power supply designers of the burden of compensation, plant characterization, and reduces total design iterations. Furthermore, Auto-Control readily enables efficiency maximization mode changes such as phase add/drop and light-load modes. Auto Control also improves transient response as illustrated in Fig. 1 that shows supply output with and without Auto Control.

PV3012’s proprietary Auto-Control technology brings true adaptive control into the DC/DC power conversion domain. The technology:

  • Simplifies designs used in uncontrolled products by second party users (e.g., modular power converters)
  • Allows a broad range of end configurations
  • Lowers solution and design-phase costs by reducing the amount of design margin required to design for unknowns
  • Improves the reliability of the product and reduced time and cost related to field failures and troubleshooting
  • Reduces the time required to develop and test the power supply
  • Develops power supply solution blocks that are simpler to replicate for your future design projects

The PV3012 includes a lean Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and a Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) Processor, with a precision data acquisition system. The dual-core architecture produces a voltage regulator for applications that demand flexibility of potential loads or use loads that may change over the lifetime of the power supply, The IC uses a discrete-time adaptive control algorithm updated in real-time, on a switching cycle-by-cycle basis, running on the DSP core to implement closed loop compensation, eliminating external compensation components or the need to manually retune the compensation, should the characteristics of the load change (load capacitance, inductances, etc.). The DSP core is optimized for high performance with low power consumption, as the optimization of the adaptive algorithm is independent of general housekeeping, fault management and configuration tasks.

Anti-Fused NVM

The PV3012’s digital power management system utilizes RAM and non-volatile memory (NVM) to perform their tasks, and to provide designer flexibility. Both the program code and PMBus parameters are stored in NVM. When powered on, the contents of the NVM are loaded to the RAM for fast access to the processing unit. The NVM serves as a long-term storage of vital code that determines functionality of the power supply; therefore it is crucial that this memory be reliable.

The IC uses anti-fused based NVM to ensure maximum fidelity of the data stored, over elevated temperatures and time. The NVM provides memory for custom configuration of the product, storage for pre-loaded configuration tables, and storage for firmware code. While this NVM is one-time programmable, the SoC provides enough onboard NVM for multiple writes to memory, such as adjusting values in configuration tables. Programming of anti-fused based NVM causes a permanent structural change, does not suffer from charge leakage (as found in some memory technologies), and is not reversible with voltage or temperature. This memory does not suffer from acceleration mechanisms related to high temperature stress (HTS), so anti-fused based NVM provides a reliability advantage for designs that operate in elevated temperature environments and for designs that need to guarantee data retention for long periods of time. This NVM is specified from -40°C to 125°C junction temperature with a 20-year data retention rating


A low-latency, precision 11-bit ADC samples and quantizes voltages, currents, and temperatures. The results are passed to the DSP, which solves the resulting matrix and adjusts the digital pulse-width modulator (DPWM) output on a cycle-by-cycle basis. The DPWM provides duty cycle resolution of at least 15 Bits, effectively eliminating limit-cycling and quantization noise. ADC results are also passed to the power management processor, which in turn provides the values through the PMBus communication interface for system telemetry (remote measurement and reporting) of current, voltage, and temperature information. To maximize system performance and reliability, the IC provides temperature correction/compensation of several parameters.

This PMBus compliant controller uses full differential measurements and the ADC to provide precision system telemetry. To enhance system performance and reliability, the PV3012 delivers advanced digitally mapped temperature compensation of key parameters, enabling current measurement precision of 3% over the full load range.

Gate Driver

Fig. 2 shows a typical application of the PV3012 with external gate drivers that accept PWM inputs and drive synchronous multiphase MOSFET outputs. This power supply can consist of a single-phase, or two-phases interleaved (dual-phase mode), with a single PV3012. For systems that require additional phases, the PV3012 supports parallel scaling of multiple controllers. This support includes: communication over the Digital Stress Share (DSS) line, phase add/drop, phase current sharing, synchronization line (SYNC), and system good line (SYSG).

The DSS is a proprietary single-wire digital communication bus for the interconnection of multiple paralleled digital control ICs. It is a combination of a master/slave current sharing architecture with a quasi-democratic average current determination. The master/slave architecture ensures tight line and load regulation, whereas the average current reference for each phase is a result of the current reading from each phase (democratic). This active phase current balance provides asymmetric current sharing to help eliminate “hot spots” and the devices participating in DSS gain knowledge of the highest and lowest stressed device and adjust control to match the average system stress. DSS improves efficiency, simplifies thermal management, improves reliability, and provides a higher level of redundancy.

The PV3012 interfaces to industry-standard MOSFET drivers through PWM1 and PWM2 signals, as well as multi-purpose driver-mode outputs DMD1 and DMD2 (Fig. 2). When selecting a MOSFET driver, ensure that the input level thresholds (high, low, and tri-state band) of its PWM and Enable (if present) are compatible with the 3.3 V drive levels supported by the PV3012. Most popular MOSFET drivers fulfill this criterion. Fig. 3 shows the details of PWM and DMD signals for phase 1 (PWM1 and DMD1). Phase 2 signals PV3012 V1.0 (PWM2, DMD2) are the equivalent signals for phase 2 in a dual phase application.

The PV3012 supports two basic MOSFET driver types:

  • Active High Tri-state PWM input
  • PWM input with Enable input
Table 1 PV3012 Protection Features
Protection and Fault Detection Programmable Thresholds Programmable Response Time Non-Latching with Auto Restart Temperature Compensated
Output OVP Yes Yes
OCP Yes Yes Yes Yes
SCP Yes Yes
LOS Yes Yes Yes
Input ULVO & OVLO Yes Yes
OTP(Internal, On-Chip Sense) Yes Yes Yes
UTP(Internal, On-Chip Sense) Yes
OTP(External Sense) Yes Yes
UTP(External Sense) Yes

The PV3012’s DPWM must control each power switch in the power stage independently. Each output phase employs two power switches: the high-side (control) switch, and the low-side (sync) switch. During operation of the sync-buck converter, either one power MOSFET is on, or both power MOSFETs are off, at a given time. Whenever power conversion is disabled (due to a fault condition, or power conversion disabled through CTRL pin or PMBus command), both switches will be held off.

This controller may be used in single or dual phase mode. In the dual phase mode, phases may be added or removed as the load varies, so that efficiency is maximized over the load range. Also, the output of each phase is interleaved, which doubles the effective output switching frequency. With DSS and PLL synchronization, multiple PV3012 devices may be used in parallel to increase the number of phases supporting the application’s load. Auto-Control, adapts on a cycle-by-cycle basis and provides active loop compensation to stabilize the control loop as phases are added and removed. PV3012 delivers voltage precision of ±0.5% over line, load, and the full -40°C to 125°C junction temperature range. The converter’s output can be configured from 0.6 V to 5.5 V using PMBus™ commands or with an external resistor to access standard and DOSA set-point tables. As shown in Fig. 2, the PV3012 has two supply pins. VDD33A is the supply pin for the analog circuitry, whereas the VDD33D is the supply pin for the digital circuitry. Both pins require a typical voltage of 3.3 V, and it is recommended to use a 0.1 μF, X7R decoupling capacitor at each pin.


PV3012 utilizes analog and digital functionality to maximize system protection and continuously monitors the health of the power conversion system. It generates fault and warning conditions, protects the power stage, and actively manages system re-start attempts. Under- and over-voltage (UVLO, OVLO) conditions on the input and output are monitored, respectively. Table 1 lists other protection features, including overvoltage protection (OVP), overcurrent protection (OCP), short circuit protection (SCP), lost sense (LOS), over and under temperature protection (UTP and OTP).

The PV3012 also supports Loss of Sense (LOS) fault protection. If the output voltage sense lines to pins VSENP and VSENN (Fig. 2) become disconnected or shorted, it triggers an LOS fault and turns off power regulation to protect the power stage. LOS detection is configurable, through specific commands, from 100 mV to 500 mV below the VOUT setting; the default threshold voltage for LOS detection is 300 mV. The response time is also configurable, through specific commands, from 10 μs to 50 μs; the default response time is 10 μs.

Configuring the PV3012

The PV3012 is equipped with four configuration inputs (CONFIG, VSET, ADDR1, and ADDR2). You can use these inputs to configure PV3012 parameters prior to (or in the absence of any) PMBus communication.

To activate a specific configuration, connect external precision resistors RA1, RA2, RC, and RS1 from the respective configuration input to analog ground (AGND), as shown in Fig. 4. The PV3012 determines the value of configuration resistors by injecting a 10 μA to 80 μA (nominal) current through its configuration pins into these resistors. If no configuration resistors are detected (configuration pin is left floating), the PV3012 remains at its default configuration. Device settings determined by the configuration resistors may be overwritten subsequently by settings retrieved from NVM, which stored them there through PMBus interaction. The PV3012 may be configured for NVM precedence., or through on-going PMBus communication during normal operation.

Murata and Powervation team up for digital reference design

Developed jointly by Powervation and Murata Power Solutions, the CEB019 digital DC/DC power solution uses the PV3012 dual phase digital synchronous buck controller, which provides real-time, adaptive loop compensation that overcomes issues related to variations in external components, temperature, and user layouts, all without significant design effort and support.

Murata Power Solutions’ 45 A dual phase Power Block occupies just 1.0 inch x 0.5 inch, the same footprint as most other Power Block offerings rated at only 25 - 35 A. This ultra-dense LGA solution addresses many of the critical steps - layout, component matching, etc. - while providing best-in-class-efficiency. When teamed with the PV3012 control IC, Power Block designers can reduce dependence on external engineering support when designing a system to fit their specific needs.

Inputs ADDR1 and ADDR2 along with resistors RA1 and RA2 assign a PMBus address to a PV3012 slave device. Unique device addresses are required in systems where multiple PMBus devices are connected to a single serial synchronous bus, through lines SDA (data) and SCL (clock). Bus conflicts will occur if more than one device responds to the same PMBus address (other than the broadcast address).

Resistor RC from CONFIG to AGND (Fig. 4) selects one out of the eight possible power supply configurations. Each of the eight configuration tables may consist of up to 32 configuration parameter/value pairs. A single configuration parameter/value pair may be, for example, an assignment of a current limit. Specific RC precision resistor values range from 147kΩ to 75.0kΩ for the eight possible tables.

This single-pin configuration technology allows a single resistor to fully configure a controller for its use in the desired switch-mode power supply. Also, by simply providing a different resistor, the controller can be fully configured according to the requirements of a different design.

Each of the eight configuration tables allows the user access to over 60 parameters, such as VOUT settings, switching frequency, slew rate, VOUT tracking, protection feature set-points, master/slave, etc.

Resistor RS1 from VSET to AGND sets the VOUT set point. There are two procedures to map VOUT. Mapping 1 truncates the output to the nearest 50 mV. Mapping 2 employs resistor RSET in parallel with RS1; this establishes DOSA standard outputs. The RS1 values range from 0 kΩ to 100 kΩ to set VOUT from 0.600 V to 3.300 V, respectively.

Configuration resistors are accessed during the PV3012 power-up process, immediately following the application of the supply voltage (VDD33D, VDD33A) and the built-in self-test (BIST). The typical duration of the configuration phase is less than 10 ms. Once a PV3012 has completed its configuration phase, it ignores the configuration resistors for the remainder of normal operation, or when the PV3012 undergoes a new power-up sequence (i.e., following removing and re-applying VDD33D, VDD33A). To minimize controller power consumption, the configuration measurement currents are turned off during normal operation.

PowErsmart Design Tool

During the design stage, the PV3012’s PowerSMART Design Tool allows designers to easily select and program (to the controller’s memory) the desired parameters of their configuration table(s). This interface allows the designer to communicate with the digital control IC on the power supply via the designer’s computer. The tool runs on the designer’s machine and exchanges information over a common USB connection. Evaluation boards are provided with a USB/I2C interface that allows communication with the control IC through its SMBus lines.

Using the design tool, the designer can communicate with the controller IC to receive/monitor information from the power supply and IC, as well as program settings to the controller. The designer can view the power supply’s status, input/output voltages, output current, phase current sharing, and fault conditions detected by the controller. The design environment allows configuration and adjustment of more than 60 parameters, such as switching frequency, VOUT, and protection and fault limits.

Digital Reference Design

To implement the IC, Powervation joined forces with Murata Power Solutions to co-develop a reference design for Murata Power Solution’s 45 A Power Block (Fig. 5).. For details, see the sidebar, “Murata and Powervation Team Up for Digital Reference Design”.

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