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Powerful intelligence

The release of the first version of PMBus signals a new generation of intelligent power sources. By Vanessa Knivett.

The migration to lower and more diverse silicon operating voltages, plus increases in switching speeds and currents, has resulted in a strong shift in the way that power is distributed around a board.
For designers, the challenge of meeting perhaps six to eight different voltage requirements on the same board initially provoked the use of a range of additional discrete devices – home grown solutions for power control and monitoring. Subsequently, there has been substantial R&D investment from the semiconductor industry and power supply community to meet the needs of these more distributed power architectures.
However, with battles to be fought just to keep up with the task of converting power into a useable state, power supply R&D teams had their work cut out. Hence, it was the semiconductor industry that first responded to the demand for more sophisticated power management devices. Now, however, power supply vendors are keen to take back some of that control function by integrating power management features into their power supplies, with the result of some potential cost and board space saving for designers compared to the discrete methods widely employed.

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Vanessa Knivett

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