Inc. yesterday unveiled a family of digital signal controllers (DSCs) and
reference designs aimed at power conversion for end applications ranging from
industrial products and hybrid cars to medical instruments and lighting
The new products are part of a
growing trend toward so-called "digital power" in which a power supply's
functions and energy flow are controlled by a digital mechanism rather than by
traditional analog methods. Proponents of digital power say its primary
advantage is its software-based flexibility, and they claim that translates to
lower costs, reduced part counts and better performance of end products.
"We've seen some of our customers,
when they transition from an analog design to a full digital design, reduce
their part count by 50 percent or more," says Bill Hutchings, product marketing
manager for Microchip's new line of DSCs.
Microchip's new line of DSCs, which
includes seven products, is said to be a good fit for digital power conversion
applications because it combines the features of digital signal processors
(DSPs) and microcontrollers. The signal processor portion does quick
calculations and handles pulse width modulation, while microcontroller
functionality helps in communications and so-called "housekeeping functions."
Yesterday's announcement included
seven embedded processors known as the dsPIC33F GS Series (view a video
of the products). The second-generation family includes devices ranging from 18
to 44 pins and memory sizes from 6 KB to 16 KB. Microchip augmented yesterday's
introduction with the rollout of an AC/DC reference
design based on the new dsPIC33F GS controllers.
"We're not only coming out with
silicon," Hutchings says. "We're coming out with reference designs to support
Microchip engineers expect the
products to see use in DC/AC power inverters, AC/DC power supplies and DC/DC
converters. End applications include electric vehicles, hybrid cars, battery
chargers, industrial motor control, LCD televisions and various types of
lighting, including fluorescent, LED (light-emitting diode) and HID
(high-intensity discharge). The technology is said to be gaining traction in
medical power supplies as well as in aerospace and military.
"A lot of applications are going
digital," Hutchings says. "Building adaptive control into an analog control
chain is a lot easier than building adaptive control into software."