Synthetic current control drives efficiency in IoT infrastructure

November 02, 2016 // By Nick Flaherty
Patents on synthetic current control are key to the latest power technology development at Intersil. Nick Flaherty talks to Mark Downing Senior Vice President, Infrastructure and Industrial Power Products about the technology powering the infrastructure for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The launch of a large family of multiphase power controllers and peripheral power stages is a significant move for Intersil, says Mark Downing Senior Vice President, Infrastructure and Industrial Power Products. "There’s a lot of data centre growth that’s driven by the growth in cloud services and the next wave is the Internet of Things with connected machines and over the next few years that will grow significantly,” he said.

“This means that infrastructure equipment is being pushed to the max in processing power and bandwidth and that drives some challenging requirements on the power side in efficiency but also to reduce board space – if we are occupying a substantial amount of the board with power that limits the processing and that’s a big push by customers. What we are describing really power the high power core voltages for processors and other high power FPGAs and ASICs in data centres, communications equipment, basestations, switches and routers. These are expensive development that have taken several years to get to this point so we wanted to make sure the solutions are broad in the market.

The enabler for this development is synthetic current control. “Synthetic current control with fast transient reduces the need for output capacitance that saves a lot of board area and cost,” he said. “This is a full digital control solution and what we mean by synthetic current control is the controller is estimating what the inductor will be a cycle ahead of when the current is being drawn from the processor. This then takes a feedback loop from the actual value and adjusts it, so it tracks each phase current with zero latency which is how we get the very fast transient current."

“If you take 300A and divide it into six 50A phases you need to make sure its 50A give or take in each phase. One of the things this controller does very well is current balancing on the high frequency loads. If you had a load step of 10A to 100A sweeping up to 1MHz this device will maintain the current balance, and that’s what Intel’s test plan requires.”