Digital Multiphase Family: Using PowerNavigator Software

Added on October 28, 2016

This video is an overview of ISL68137 evaluation board, AVSBus and PowerNavigator v5.3.45. See how quickly you can configure, monitor and debug your devices using this software. You'll have a complete oscilloscope on your laptop!

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We are showcasing the ISL68137 evaluation board and the PowerNavigator software that configures the device. This is the ISL68137 and this is our X + Y = 7 controller. As you can see on our eval board, this is our controller with all the discrete circuitry around it. This is configured as a 7-phase output.

These are our smart power stages with our inductors, and then our output capacitors with a load transit tool built on this eval board. When looking at the board, there's only a handful of discrete components on it. Those discrete components are not used for any settings.

Every setting in this product is done through the software called PowerNavigator, which is our GUI connecting the product for the purpose of configuration, control and telemetry, and that connects through a PMBus interface.

AVBus is actually part of the PMBus specification, but as a secondary interface. PMBus is a slow speed, 1MHz, SMBus, or similar to I2C, which connects to multiple devices on the board for the purposes of telemetry. AVSBus, however, is a high speed. Up to 50MHz, point-to-point interface from the power supply to the end load, such as your ASIC or your processor.

The purpose of that high-speed interface is that the processor can reach in and control the power supply. So if it's over temperature, it can lower the voltage. If it wants to go into idle states, it can adjust the voltage. The benefit of that is it can optimize the power supply to get maximum efficiency in your overall system.

Let's walk through a quick set up and configuration with PowerNavigator. So this is our PowerNavigator GUI, which is our single software environment for the complete setup, control, and monitoring of all of our digital power products. So as you can see on this front page, we already have the setup with the two outputs on the ISL68137.

By double-clicking on any one of these boxes we can walk into rail inspector, which is our quick setup utility for designing any multiphase controller. As you can see, there's only six panels here on the left you have to walk through to set up and configure the device. This takes the typical process of two weeks from an analog multiphase, down to only a couple of hours for the complete control and tuning of the product. This is a dramatic time saving for any engineer who's looking for a scalable product for all the rails in a system.

To highlight a couple of the key panels, you can see on the phase configuration you can easily walk through, assign your phases to any output, and also adjust what we call auto-phase dropping. We have an autonomous phase dropping such as the device will shed the phases to always maintain peak efficiency in the system. With the ability of a digital current control device, you get precise thresholds so you get the highest efficiency possible from any multiphase system.

Our loop tuning is very easy. You just enter your power training components on the screen, and then you just move to the transient tab and you enter in your proportional, your integral, your derivative gain. Similar to how you'd calculate your response with an analog device, but the exception is with digital you can do it all on the fly. So you can watch your output voltage response as you change the settings. This is what really gives you the time savings.

The rest of the settings just come down to any of the protection settings you would like. You can set up your voltage, your current responses in any manner you would like. The device is extremely flexible and can be adapted to any system. So after you set up your vary settings, the device is configured. You just turn on your power, and then you can use PowerNavigator to monitor the output voltages, the currents per phase, so you have a complete oscilloscope on your laptop. It allows very fast debug.

You can look on the volt screen and you can see every diagnostic volt. There's even a black box function in our device, such that if you're running a qualification and it's in the oven overnight, the device will log its complete conditions in the event that any problem arises.

Finally, with a built in scope, you can see all the wave forms real time in the chart recorder fashion. So what this gives you is one complete software presiding the digital multiphase, and any other auxiliary rails around that product. So you can have a single software, single solution set that meets the needs for all of your board power.