Digital power monitors cool blade servers

Analog Devices, a provider of high-performance semiconductors for signal-processing applications, announces a family of digital power monitors that reduce power requirements, cost and thermal challenges in blade servers, blade PCs and advanced telecom computing architecture (ATCA) cards. The ADM1175/6/7/8 devices address the increasing power requirements of these systems — which result in part from the rising number of processors inside — by overseeing the usage of individual boards in blade-structured systems.

Several power-related challenges arise as processor densities increase in computing and telecommunications equipment. First, new equipment designs are packing individual blades closer together, increasing thermal dissipation and requiring more elaborate cooling systems that consume more power. Furthermore, emerging blade-structured systems require increased power that cannot always be satisfied by standard available ac current. In both cases, system designers are seeing a need to efficiently monitor and actively control power usage. In previous computing and telecommunications systems, however, either the power was not actively monitored, or a costly combination of discrete solutions including separate current sense amplifiers, ADCs and digital hot swaps were utilized.

Analog Devices' ADM1175/6/7/8 devices, on the other hand, incorporate a 12-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC), hot swap controller and current sense amplifier on a single chip, providing designers with an integrated, high-performance approach to monitoring power consumption. These devices reduce system cost by 33 percent and increase performance to 10 thousand samples per second, versus available solutions, which routinely offer only 100 samples per second.

“Today's computing and telecommunications applications require innovative solutions that address an increasing need for power,” said Pat Meehan, product line manager, Power System Management, Analog Devices. “Recognizing this need, we leveraged our power management expertise and intimate knowledge of the PC and server markets to develop a family of products that alleviate much of the strain these blade-based structures are facing. In doing so, designers now have access to solutions that address the power-hungry nature of these applications, maintaining system reliability without having to increase cost or sacrifice performance.”

The ADM1175, ADM1176, ADM1177 and ADM1178 digital power monitors combine a 12-bit ADC that provides the highest resolution of integrated dc power measurement available on the market today, a hot swap controller and a current sense amplifier that monitors current in blade servers, emerging blade PCs and ATCA cards. The devices operate at up to 10 thousand samples per second, enabling intelligent power management features such as the ability to dynamically control processor clock rates. The amplifier senses voltage across a series sense resistor and limits the current by controlling the gate voltage of an external N-channel field-effect transistor (FET) in the power path. The devices also incorporate a convert start pin, allowing for simultaneous sampling of multiple converters in a system, and thereby enabling all power sources to be instantaneously measured for a complete read out of the total power usage. The devices control supply voltages from 3.3 V up to 14 V. An industry-standard I2C interface allows a controller to read current and voltage data from the ADC. The ADM1175, ADM1177 and ADM1178 offer four I2 C addresses, whereas the ADM1176 offers 16 addresses.

All products in the ADM117x family are sampling now with full production scheduled for June 2006. The devices are priced starting at $2.50 per unit in 1,000-piece quantities in a space-saving 10-lead MSOP (mini small outline plastic) package and are specified over an operating temperature range of -40 degrees C to +85 degrees C.

For more information, visit

Analog Devices, Inc.
800-ANALOGD (800-262-5643)

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