Meeting Big Demands for Power in Small Devices

February 6, 2018

John Woodward By: John Woodward
Executive Business Manager, Industrial Power, Maxim Integrated 


Yup, we interact with many things throughout the day and most of them are powered, whether by a battery or the "wall." These "things" can come in many shapes and sizes in our personal life as well as in our professional life.   That new refrigerator has a giant LCD screen. That new endoscopy machine at the doctor’s office offers more resolution and features. And how about that new building with the fancy elevator control panel—it talks to me! I can control the temperature in my house or in the building from anywhere in the world. Everything is getting smarter! But how? More processing power, that’s how.

So, we are adding processors to make things smarter, but at what cost? How much more space is available to add this intelligence? Probably not much, if any. How much more time does the designer have to get the product out? Probably less than with the previous generation. There are more electronics in the box, but are the designers allowed to exceed the allowed temperature? NO. There is more pressure on today's designers to do more with the same or less space and time. This translates to needing smaller, highly efficient power supplies that are quick and easy to use.   

You can imagine that all the different things we see and use will have different power demands and different power supplies. Today's popular DC power supplies range from 5V up to 54V.  They come from many different sources and are converted to many different rails to power that needed intelligence. Unlike other ICs, power management ICs (PMICs) are unique in that they need a whole bunch of other components like inductors, transformers, resistors, and capacitors that go with them. Designers need to know how to pick the values, and many vendors help with calculators and simulation tools. Many designers who are not power experts are forced to learn about these. Is there a power solution available to designers that is easy to use, small, efficient, and able to work across many applications and thermal environments?

This is where Maxim's ready-to-use Himalaya power modules with a wide input range are invaluable.  These modules provide a ready-made power converter for use in a variety of applications. They integrate things like the magnetics, converter compensation, power FETs, and default programming resistors and capacitors.       

Using our power module doesn't just simplify the design from the standpoint of removing the need to adjust the control loop, pick the components, and design the schematic. It reduces many other facets of the project, like the procurement of fewer components and inventory management. It reduces board space. It guarantees electromagnetic interference (EMI) and reliability compliance, and results in fewer points of failure on the board. Using a module increases the robustness of the design as well.

Compact, Integrated Power Modules Save Design Time

Himalaya power solutions are high-efficiency, wide-input-voltage, step-down DC-DC power modules that comply with CISPR 22 Class B EMI requirements. With the same naming convention, they allow you to migrate between module and IC as needed to meet your unique cost, size, and ease-of-use requirements. They’re available in system-in-package (SiP) or ultra-small packages.

The newest modules to the Himalaya family are the MAXM17761 and MAXM17575/17574. The MAXM17761, based on the MAX17761 IC and featuring a 4.5V to 76V operating supply, is 1A high-efficiency DC-DC step-down power module with an integrated shielded inductor, compensation, and other components. It's ideal for applications where equipment is compact (with restricted airflow and space or in thermally challenging environments, for instance) or with highly unpredictable voltage transients. Compared to the closest competitor, the MAXM17761 features higher input voltage support, wider output voltage range, built-in output voltage monitoring, and, considering all of the integrated components, an up to 55% smaller solution size. Synchronous rectification reduces power dissipation by up to 40%. Its 76V input voltage rating enables higher robustness for 24V/48V nominal industrial applications. Its wide output voltage range supports multiple rails with a single device.  The module also features a low temperature rise, with a peak efficiency of 88% when converting 24V to 5V.

MAXM17761 block diagram

The highly integrated MAXM17761 DC-DC power module supports solutions with a small footprint.

The MAXM17575/17574, with a 4.5V to 60V operating supply, are high-efficiency, DC-DC step-down power modules with an integrated inductor and associated components. They meet the demands of applications such as base station point-of-load regulators, distributed supply regulators, industrial power supplies, and HVAC and building control systems. The MAXM17575, which operates at 86% efficiency, converts 24V to 5V at 1.5A  and is available in a SiP package. The MAXM17574, also available in a SiP package, operates at 88%, converting 24V to 5V at 3A. Both modules feature internal compensation, adjustable frequency, bootstrap LDO for higher efficiency, and external synchronization. The two modules require only five external components, which don’t need any calculation.

MAXM17575 block diagram

The MAXM17575 enables cooler, smaller, and simpler power supply solutions.

Design Cooler, Smaller Power Supplies Faster

For those of you who still want to simulate your design, the EE-Sim® design generation and simulation environment is available for the power modules.  There are also ready-made evaluation kits for most popular input/output voltage combinations. Maxim is working to continually expand our portfolio of Himalaya power modules.  With these modules, you can focus on getting your core design to market quickly, without getting bogged down by power supply design.