Software tool configures optimal power architecture with Vicor's modules

May 12, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Vicor's Power System Designer online design tool embodies the company's Power Component Design Methodology. Given no more than the input and output requirements of a given power-provision problem, it will deliver suggested optimal layouts, and information on both performance and cost, to enable design decisions.

Vicor offers a large range of integrated power conversion modules in a range of formats. It has to a large extend separated out the basic power conversion functions such as voltage-level conversion, regulation, and isolation. Any given PSU requirement might therefore be met in a number of ways. The new software aims to steer engineers to the optimum solutions, and away from any configurations that might be less advantageous. It also accommodates trends such as – in data certres – direct conversion from 48V distribution to point-of-load, with no intermediate voltage rail. It feeds automatically to a pre-existing “whiteboard” environment which, while not a full circuit simulator, can apply behavioural models based on real-world performance data to show predicted system operation in detail.


In attempting to come up with the “best” power system solution, Vicor says, power designers have been forced to analyze bewildering topologies, architectures and products. Each alternative design approach requires performance calculations, data sheet searches, manual simulations, thermal projections, layout and packaging studies, bill-of-material (BOM) generation and cost analysis. To address this challenge, a variety of power design tools have been developed. These tools, however, don’t allow analysis of the complete power system. Rather, the “front-end”, which filters and conditions power received from an AC or a DC source, must be configured and analyzed separately from the downstream regulators that generate the voltages required by system loads. Also, these tools do not provide a complete modular solution: the generated power system solutions combine a limited number of modular power devices with several “discrete” circuit solutions, each requiring dozens of parts. Thus, power density is compromised and the designer is challenged with figuring out the right combination of front end and DC-DC power trains, and dealing with the complexities of discrete power circuit layout, thermal management, packaging and cost.


The Power System Designer online design tool simplifies and accelerates the creation of compact, multi-output, modular power