Power Management ICs are everywhere

The power management market and all its sub-groups are forecasted to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.1% through 2010 according to a report “The Global Market for Power Supply and Power Management ICs” from Venture Development Corporation. This fifth edition (2006) covers:

  • AC/DC Off-Line Regulators
  • Battery Charging/Management ICs
  • DC/DC Regulators
  • Hot Swap Controllers
  • Linear Regulators
  • MOSFET Drivers
  • Power Factor Correction (PFC) Pre-Regulators
  • PWM/PFM Controllers

The growth will be fueled by the inclusion of power management chips in new products that didn't previously have them, and it will be nudged along by the world-wide energy demands and the high cost of energy. Manufacturers, design engineers, and consumers are also more conscious of energy usage, while organizations and countries are demanding more efficient power supplies. The end result is a design that requires more power management ICs. Add to the mix that the predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the cost of power management ICs is expected be a negative 2.6% through 2010, and that makes power management ICs even more attractive to designers and consumers. Finally, the report said that the lion's share of these power management ICs are expected to be consumed in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by the Americas and the combined Europe, Middle East and African regions. By application, you can expect (refer to Table 1) consumer electronics to use the most of these power management chips, followed by telecom, office automation, industrial controls, automotive applications, and others.

Miserly power to the portable
Power management in portables has become essential to enable the addition of more functions while keeping battery drain to a minimum. The convergence of complex multimedia functionality (including high-resolution digital still camera capabilities, mobile gaming, MP3 and video playback, Internet access, Global Positioning System receivers, and mobile television) is becoming standard on mobile products. Of course, each of these applications adds to the power management complexity of the overall system. Portable device makers are seeking advanced power management solutions that reduce total system cost, occupy very little board space and are flexible and scalable enough to manage even the most demanding power requirements. For example, Broadcom Corporation, a company not typically thought of as power management IC maker recently announced that it has entered the portable power management market by unveiling its first power management unit (PMU) solution designed to satisfy the complex power system requirements of mobile handsets and other portable devices. The new Broadcom system-on-a-chip (SoC) PMU intelligently manages power consumption in mobile devices to optimize system operation and maximize battery life. The BCM59001 PMU can be paired with Broadcom or other baseband processors, multimedia processors, or application processors to provide a complete system solution required by leading mobile device manufacturers.

Lattice Semiconductor Corporation announced the addition of the programmable, low cost ispPAC-POWR607 device to its second generation Power Manager II product family. Due to its low cost, very small footprint and low power standby feature, the ispPAC-POWR607 is an ideal power management solution in handheld consumer, telecom and industrial applications. The new devices achieve a sub-$1.00 price point in high volume, targeting many cost-sensitive power management applications in consumer markets such as LCD TV, automotive multimedia systems, GPS receivers, Multimedia Terminal Adapters and set-top-boxes. The ispPAC-POWR607 device integrates a complete set of power management functions that typically require multiple ICs.

Texas Instruments touts its TPS65053 as the first power management IC fully optimized to support all power system requirements of multimedia devices based on the company's DaVinci technology. Simplifying power design in portable media players, digital still cameras and other lithium-battery powered electronics, the device provides dynamic voltage scaling and up to 95 percent power conversion efficiency.
“Smart phone designs constantly add new features that require more power rails than supplied by power management ICs. Cell phone designers want a power solution that gives them the freedom to accommodate new loads or voltage levels and that fits in increasingly smaller designs,” said Ven Shan, vice president of marketing for Power Management Products at Semtech. “The SC905 and SC905A are mini PMICs that are I2 C programmable to generate the output voltages for enabling compact, feature-rich cell phone designs.” Semtech Corp.'s SC905 family of power management ICs feature nine ultralow dropout (ULDO) regulators that individually source from 80 to 300 mA for cell phone applications.

“As camera phones move to resolutions of two Megapixels and higher, the light level required to take quality photos rises dramatically,” said Arcadio Leon, marketing director, Portable Power Management Products, Analog Devices. “For camera phones, both efficiency and system sequencing play a critical role in minimizing battery-current overstress. Existing charge pump solutions, for example, have a power efficiency rating as low as 40 percent under low battery voltage conditions, which means that less than half of the input power is converted to output power, thereby further draining the battery. The power efficiency of the ADP1653 peaks at 92 percent and is typically greater than 80 percent over the full voltage range of a Lithium-ion battery.”

Table: Power management by application

Application   2005*  2010*  CAGR 2005-2010* 
Consumer Electronics   2,390.1  5,034.1  16.1% 
Telecom/Datacom   2,241.3  3,988.0  12.2% 
Computers/Office Automation   1,727.4  2,840.3  10.5% 
Industrial Control & Automation   733.1  1,292.5  12.0% 
Automotive   618.8  1,150.0  13.2% 
Instrumentation   358.4  637.3  12.2% 
Merchant Power Supplies   346.6  610.0  12.0% 
Military/Aerospace   240.5  419.5  11.8% 
Electronics Processing Equipment   190.2  350.3  13.0% 
Medical   108.1  237.5  17.0% 
Other   92.3   157.7  11.3% 
TOTAL   9,046.8  16,717.2  13.1% 

from Venture Development Corporation 2006
*U.S. Dollars in millions

“To save power for displays, some companies such as Microsemi have introduced automatic brightness control systems into the notebook platforms. The primary drive for this is the business user of notebooks,” says Roger Holliday VP Strategic Business Development for Microsemi. “It can help save up to 3W of power and is especially helpful for the business traveler on long airplane flights. Smaller display manufacturers (e.g. iPod) are now looking at this product as well,” he said. The company's LX1972/1974 is a “human eye” response light sensor for automatic brightness control in display products.

“Lighting and display functions can consume a significant portion of a lithium-ion battery's available power,” says Adolfo Garcia, Product Line Director for AnalogicTech. “The AAT1232 boost converter is tailor-made for cost-sensitive applications by combining output voltage programming with high output-current drive in space-efficient packaging.” It is especially useful for single-cell portable products, and can deliver 100 mA at 24 volts for OLEDs, LCDs, and CCDs. The AAT1232 operates at 2 MHz; thus external inductors and capacitors are small, significantly reducing overall PCB footprint.

“Since consumers demand handheld devices have features and performance close to that of full sized products, yet remain slim and light, says Brian Rush, a Business Manager in the Thermal and Battery Management Business Unit for Maxim Integrated Products, the challenge for power and battery management only gets harder. Without a breakthrough development in rechargeable battery technology or an emergence of a superior alternative, the dependence on high performance power conversion, battery charging and capacity monitoring will continue to increase.” To address this challenge Maxim offers the MAX8660/1 — high-efficiency, low-quiescent current, power management ICs with dynamic voltage management for mobile applications

Digital conversion and power management
“The level of interest in digital power has increased significantly over the last 6 months,” says Davin Lee, vice president and general manager of Intersil’s Industrial & Communications Power products group. “This is due mainly to engineers having a better understanding of how a digitally programmable power management solution can add value to their systems. The products range from analog control loops with a digital wrapper to allow digital programming, to a full digital product utilizing a digital control loop and a digital interface”.

In addition, said Mr. Lee, “the acceptance of PMBus has increased exponentially, especially in the datacom/telecom markets. Some of the market leaders are planning to adopt PMBus as the main form of communication among their power supplies, meaning that all power management solutions will need PMBus capability.”

At the systems level, Primarion says that its PX7520 is the industry's only dual-phase programmable digital-power conversion and power management IC. It touts a digital control loop and active voltage positioning; real-time current, and input-voltage sense circuitry; internal voltage and temperature referencing; and sequencing and margining circuitry. Its I2 C PMBus interface facilitates control and monitoring.

National Semiconductor's LP3971 power management unit (PMU) and LM3370 DC/DC converter bring dynamic voltage scaling and I2 C programmability to portable devices and next generation multimedia processors. The I2 C programmability is important because it means the processor does not need additional GPIO.

The LTC2952 from Linear Technology is a power management IC with push-button on/off control for system power and system monitoring features. The power management function features two of its PowerPath controllers suitable for applications requiring an ideal diode-OR function for load sharing or automatic switchover between two input power sources. The low-loss switchover is achieved by regulating two external P-channel MOSFETs with 20-mV typical voltage drop when conducting and is configurable to satisfy various application requirements.

With mid-level system integration in mind, Zilker Labs offers the ZL2105, which claims the most power management facility for 3-amp DC/DC designs. The state-machine based device combines a synchronous step-down controller with drivers and digital feedback compensation loop; voltage tracking, sequencing, and margining blocks; voltage, current, and temperature monitoring; and fault detection circuitry in a 6-by-6 mm package.

As appropriate to the control aspect, many tout their adaptability to analog and digital systems. The more notable products in the power-block integration category include Power-One's ZM7300 series of Z-one Digital IBA controllers, the first claimed to manage both analog-based systems (voltage regulator module, linear regulator, point-of-load) as well as digital point-of-load designs.

What about standards?
“There is a gradual harmonization of efficiency rules and of market-transformation programs aimed at educating consumers on the energy usage of products that they buy,” said Doug Bailey vice president of Marketing for Power Integrations. For example, the company introduced four major power conversion product families in the past year aimed at OEMs and power supply merchants that are developing products to meet the new regulations. The pace of new product introductions will continue in 2007 as manufacturers work to reduce the system cost of power supplies by increasing the operational and standby efficiency, decrease no-load consumption and improve the level of product integration. In addition to the focus on energy efficiency, the market for analog power conversion products is growing as consumer product volume ramps, driven by prosperity in emerging markets, and as popular new media technologies become de-rigueur in homes throughout the G7.


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