Drag and Drop GUI simplifies power management in digital controller development projects

Drag and Drop GUI simplifies power management in digital controller development projects

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

Here we walk you through some of the key elements of the new PowerNavigator GUI.

Slide 1: Hardware Free Mode

Intersil’s new PowerNavigator GUI allows a designer to configure an entire power system without hardware which means that there will be no more waiting for initial system prototypes to arrive.

Shown in Slide 1 is the quick introduction page of Intersil’s new PowerNavigator GUI.  By using the Scan Devices box on the left of the screen a designer can scan and plug in any hardware. The Java-based software will automatically find or automatically detect hardware from the library so that you can work on your designand monitoring.

With the new PowerNavigator a designer now has the ability to use the middle box to build up an entire design without hardware.  Essentially by using a ‘Drag n Drop’ capability and clicking on a couple of boxes you can set up everything and have it ready for the hardware to come back from the prototype builders.

The box on the right allows the designer save their project files or load them back in as well as load in pre-configured ones. Intersil plans to offer over time more and more pre-set designs built from common processors, microcontrollers or FPGAs.

Slide 2: System View: Setup of Power Map

The initial screen is a blank canvas allowing the user to setup and configure an entire power system.  A designer can look at the parts library in the top left of Slide 2 and grab any device and then use the ‘Drag and Drop’ capability to build an entire system.  

Slide 3: System View: Single Output

In Slide 3 a single device has now been placed in the Power Map allowing it to be configured. Additional devices can be added to match the system.

The Power Map enables the designer to see a complete monitoring view of the device in this way you continue to use ‘Drag and Drop’ to quickly build the entire system.  

Slide 4: System View: Multiple Rails

Now that the complete architecture with power devices is complete, readability can be improved by naming devices and adding label blocks if desired.

Slide 4 shows an example where there is a power source coming in with three supplies off that and another one cascaded.  Intersil have tried to keep the PowerNavigator intuitive as possible and it mimics the type of tree diagram that every power supplies designer starts off drawing when they begin a project.

Gradually the designer will be able to build the system and map the inputs and outputs of the devices.

Slide 5: Current Sharing

To current share the rails all the designer needs to do is use the GUI to move one of the devices by dragging and dropping the phase dot onto the other rails phase donut.

Intersil’s ZL8800 digital controller can be a two-output or two-phase design.  When you do a two-phase power supply design there are typically a couple of other settings that a designer will need to set up to work in a two-phase mode.
Rather than having to code the required changes the GUI will do all that for you.  All the designer has to do with the Power Navigator is to simply grab the green dots and drag them onto the device or just combine the two blocks. On the right of Slide 5 is shown a two-phase design that has been configured in the GUI.  

Slide 6: Easy Setup: Sequencing

In Slide 6 on the right where the Power Map is complete there is a 12 V input with a 5 V I/O rail.  You also have a memory supply and an ASIC core supply of 1.2 V.  Everything is laid out and the designer is ready to go onto sequencing.  The sequencing is also all done graphically using the Sequencing control window by using ‘Drag and Drop’ controls and slider bars to adjust the start-up times or the times when they come.  

Slide 7: Intuitive Monitoring Controls

Intersil also has a Command Line expert tool that runs behind the PowerNavigator GUI which allows the designer to see everything that is going on and gives them the ability to control all of the PMBus commands directly.

Once a designer has their hardware ready and everything is connected the designer has their full system to plug into and it automatically detects all the parts that have been laid out. They can then see the Power Map including the multi-rail system view. They can also see all the currents and voltages that are running in the system. Intersil have also allowed the PowerNavigator to be configurable so the displays on the left of Slides 7 and 8 can be displayed vertically or horizontally or even in a dashboard style. So if a designer wants 50 rails on a page they can easily see it.

As a result of customer feedback the meters displayed in the left hand panel of the screen feature both a digital and a classical analog readouts because Intersil found that some engineers liked analog readouts being more used to them from their days of playing around with voltmeters while other engineers demanded a digital readout.

Slide 8: Telemetric data monitor

The PowerNavigator’s monitoring view displays all the telemetric data from the power supply to enable a designer to immediately see how any design changes will impact the overall system performance.

More information about the Power Navigator software at

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