Our customer started a business line to produce controllers for applicaition in industrial power converters, so-called Point-of-Load power modules. The customer’s approach was to offer a versatile IC to the market. The customer's marketing and sales and application functions were staffed, however there was no IC development team. A challenging but attractive IC product was defined and specified based on extensive application knowledge and market feedback, however there was no product prototype, not even partially, nor resources to create it. The customers discovered market interest and already received request for samples, so a quick IC development was desired.
In a new IC process SystematIC developed all analog function blocks and the complex mixed-signal chip toplevel as an ASIC reference design and layout. The product definition showed a complex chip with many analog functions, as well as several architectural application concepts. Flexibility and programmability were key to this versatile power controller IC for Buck converter topologies.
In an initial feasibility phase all accurate analog functions were assessed on performance and area in the chosen process. Those included high power charge pump, trimmable reference, programmable oscillator, phase lock loop, offset-compensated sense amplifiers and comparators, and several protection functions. Also operation in the application system was carefully studied, such as pll-synchronized multiphase operation, multi-module current sharing, handling of error conditions, and diode emulation mode. In the detailed design phase all analog functional blocks were designed and layouted. Blocks were simulated over PVT corners (process/voltage/temperature), key blocks were simulated with extracted layout parasitics. Mixed-signal top-level simulations were done of this complex IC including the power converter application (external components), covering PVT corners, before the chip design and layout database was released to the customer.
Architecture and feasibility study took 4 weeks and led to an IC area estimation, and plan for IC design & layout, including break down into block specifications. Within a year the full IC design, layout and simulations were completed.
WE ARE PROUD
SystematIC completed a complex power-controller IC design and layout including full functional check by simulation over corners. The extensive set of high-performance analog blocks which we developed in a new CMOS process, also makes a useful IP library for reuse in future power-controller IC developments in the same process.
SystematIC covered mixed-signal (AMS) simulation of the IC (even multiple IC's) in a (modelled) application and did functional checks of power-converter architecture concepts.
SystematIC engineers contributed to an invention on diode-emulation for boundary-condition and discontinuous-conduction operation mode and are named on the customer's patent (US2011221414A1).
BENEFITS FOR CUSTOMER
By involving SystematIC the customer enhanced its new business line for power controllers with a flexible, skilled and efficient design team, bringing rapid product prototyping as well as a valuable analog IP library in place. The innovative design contribution of SystematIC also found recognition in a granted patent.
KEY TECHNICAL STATISTICS
- Input voltage range: 3 V to 16 V
- Output votlage range: 0.5 V to 5 V
- ±0.5 % output accuracy
- Precision current sensing (DC-R of coil)
- Integrated power drivers, 4A, 5V
- Internal high-power charge pump
- 100 kHz - 2 MHz oscillator
- PLL for adjustable phase-sync operation
- Current sharing, up to 4 modules, 4 phases
- Internal/external soft-start
- OVP, OCP (incl. fold-back), OTP, UVLO, PGOOD
- Designed for testability
- I2C programming interface
OUR OTHER SUCCESS STORIES
Successful achievement of your company’s goals will require IC solutions that are tailor made for your business needs. SystematIC was founded to help businesses imagine, plan, and develop these IC solutions.
INTEGRATED MAGNETIC SENSOR
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PROXIMITY AND AMBIENT LIGHT DETECTION
SystematIC has designed a family of products which combines Ambient Light Sensor (ALS) and Infra-red Proximity Detection Sensor (PS) in a single SoC. The ambient light sensor matches the response of the human eye. The infra red proximity sensor measures the distance to an object. Our client is a leading global organization providing components to mobile phone manufacturing companies.
We were handed the responsibility of a current sensor IC that monitors charge and discharge currents of a battery in a mobile phone and will remain insensitive to the variations of the supply voltage. We took charge of the entire design trajectory along with evaluation and redesign that was needed to make the final product a notch better than competition.
TIRE PRESSURE MONITOR
In this project we developed an analog front-end architecture for a given capacitive MEMS pressure sensor. The front end must accurately measure the pressure in a tire and be robust against leakage, parasitics and noise. The SystematIC methodology was applied. First off, the sensor was electronically modelled to determine an optimal excitation and read out architecture. Next, during the detailed design phase the front-end was designed and layouted for a modern automotive IC application, including safety and test features.
X-RAY DETECTOR READOUT
The customer has a leading international position in industrial X-ray crystallography systems. In one of these products a multi-channel HV passive X-ray sensor is applied for material analysis and an accurate matched channel readout and signal processing ASIC is required. SystematIC proposed an architecture of ultra-low noise front ends that are noise optimized to the sensor element and applied in a matched channel configuration. The digital electronics where designed as special CMOS CML logic to obtain low crosstalk.
AC LED DRIVER IC
Our customer produces a range of AC LED modules for lamp manufacturers. The products were originally built with discrete components, a different set for each module type. For performance enhancement and simplification of production steps and supply chain, the customer was looking for a custom ASIC solution. The customer was also expecting improved performance on TRIAC dimmer compatibility and a reduction in product costs. With a programmable high-voltage ASIC and only a few external components (rectifier, fuse and surge) all module types can be made. LED modules with such an ASIC are directly driven from the AC mains voltage, are low-cost and are very compact and reliable. An electronic solution was created that made the customer AC LED lamp compatible with TRIAC dimmers. A discrete prototype was built and demonstrated to the customer just a few weeks after the first contact. The discrete electronics where chosen such that they could be implemented in a HV IC process.
POINT-OF-LOAD POWER CONTROLLER
Our customer, a fabless semiconductor company, started a new product line of drivers and controllers for power converter applications in industrial applications. SystematIC took care of the design of a complex power controller IC targeting application in Point-of-Load Power Modules, used in Ethernet Routers and Switches and other Industrial Applications. The customer’s approach was to offer a very versatile IC to the market that also realized excellent performance parameters (efficiency, ripple, etc). The customer discovered a strong market interest and had marketing & sales and application support in place but lacked the IC design resources for a quick product development. Within a year SystematIC developed all accurate analog functions in a new IC process and delivered the verified mixed-signal chip design and layout.
INTEGRATED POWER SWITCH
Applications supporting plug-and-play connections require (accurate) over-current protections, preferably implemented in a low-cost solid-state IC. For a division of a large semiconductor company the accurate current control was a design challenge that was tackled by involving SystematIC in the design. The area, cost-of-silicon and on-resistance of the integrated power switch are relevant parameters for the technology choice, but in any case dictate preference for an NMOS power switch. Using an NMOS switch however complicates the design of driver and sensing circuits. SystematIC did the challenging full-chip circuit design, including current sensing circuits using low-offset chopped amplifiers, adjustable over-current current control, over-temperature protection, and push-pull chargepumps to drive the NMOS.
EAR PROTECTION CONTROL IC
Our customer DEC develops and produces Dynamic Sound technology products which can typically be used as stand-alone hearing protection or embedded in headphone systems, hearing aids and hearables. The IC we designed for DEC was an example of an integration project for SME and it covers most aspects of a SystematIC turnkey solution. Our contribution extends from system study to implementation, manufacturability and testability for ears, from zeroing in the IC process to IC design and layout and the production preparation.
State-of-the-art electric propulsion (EP) systems used in satellites may exhibit impressive performance, but the used technologies cannot be scaled down in size and power whilst retaining system performance. As a result, no conventional technologies for propulsion are available for the upcoming micro- and nanosatellite market. SystematIC partners in the HiperLoc-EP project which aims to use a novel electric propulsion approach and develop an Electrospray Colloid Electric Propulsion System (ECEPS) suitable for small (cubesat) form factors.