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Optimal power system design in seconds

National Semiconductor has launched a comparison and selection tool designed to enable design engineers to quickly select an optimal power system design.

Whereas in the past, the process may have taken hours, National's new tool allows visualisation to take place in seconds – and in real time.

The WEBENCH Visualizer creates a graphical snapshot of options across multiple criteria, such as power efficiency, footprint and system bill of materials cost. It draws from 25 different switching power supply architectures and 21,000 components and, according to National, engineers can navigate through billions of power supply design alternatives in a few seconds. Design criteria can be modified and the real time effects enable the selection of the best dc-dc power supply based on their unique needs.

The tool supports power supply topologies such as buck, boost, buck-boost, sepic and flyback. Several alternative circuit configurations are also available to address specific needs like fixed-frequency and constant-on-time architectures as well as current-mode and voltage-mode control loops. Designers can specify parameters such as VIN from 1 to 100V, VOUT from 0.6 to 300V, power up to 300W and frequency up to 3MHz.

The tool features an optimiser dial designed to enable engineers to dial-in a preference for footprint, system BOM cost and power efficiency. The BOM costs are established by a link to a price list database from Digi-Key. It then creates between 50 and 70 designs from 48billion possible design options and highlights the smallest and most efficient designs, with one recommended as a starting point for further optimisation.

A second control panel allows engineers to adjust design options for voltage, current and temperature. An updated set of solutions appears and highlights each design's topology, schematic, footprint, efficiency, operating values and BOM cost/count. The tool's interactive filter allows engineers to further fine tune the power supply design to meet the target system's exact requirements.

Once a design is selected, further tuning and optimisation of the design is possible through additional component options and electrical and thermal simulation.

Chris Shaw

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