Power system design tool adds Arduino controller option

July 25, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Exar’s PowerArchitect programmable power design tool is now at version 5.1. New features include support for Exar’s development boards and the latest universal PMICs, the XRP7720 and XRP7725 programmable power ICs. It also supports the new XRP9710 and XRP9711 Power Modules and adds time saving features for power system programming.

PowerArchitect 5.1 adds support to communicate with Exar evaluation boards through an Arduino board. Code examples for this board are now available at https://github.com/ExarCorp These include a command library and examples of how to use these commands. Instructions for turning the Arduino into a standalone programmer provide engineers with new capabilities for prototyping, but the code quickly migrates to bed-of-nails full production test equipment.

Where the Exar Configuration Module (XCM) offers a simple pass through function, the Arduino platform provides a readily available development environment that allows engineers to develop code to exploit the capabilities of Exar's programmable power products before their own hardware is available. Designers have used these capabilities in a wide range of unique applications from a fully dynamic and reconfigurable universal PMIC to power telemetry in Intel Node Manager enabled servers or remote re-configurability over a network.

PowerArchitect can be used to set or modify a host of parameters when using any of Exar’s universal PMIC advanced programmable power management chips and modules. Through an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI), users can create complex sequencing schemes as well as monitor and configure supply rails in real time. PowerArchitect is used to specify nominal input voltage, under-voltage lock out, the clock switching frequency of buck converters, and over temperature, over current and over voltage faults and warnings. An upgraded wizard in this latest version of the tool suggests suitable switching frequencies and preferred external components. Once the design has been validated with the hardware, settings are saved to a project file. Then, if a problem occurs, the “Report an issue...” option will generate a file including all parameters stored in the IC which can be sent to powertechsupport@exar.com for the experts to provide assistance.

PowerArchitect 5.1 is feature-rich, but every parameter is accessible through one of three main GUI tabs. Two other tabs give an overview of the tool and provide a placeholder for customer information. A