Digitally controlled power supplies have become more feasible as high-performance DSPs (digital signal processors) and MCs (microcontrollers) have become readily available and cheaper. A digital control system can generally be implemented at a cheaper cost due to the reduced quantity of components required, an analogue system requires several supporting circuits to operate. The reduced component count and simplified PCB design improve the reliability of the final product.
A key advantage of digitally controlled power supplies is that parameters can be changed easily through software/firmware updates in the field. These parameters can change the operating conditions of the power converter, improving efficiency and performance at different operating points. Analogue circuits are typically designed around one operating point, and changes in hardware are required to achieve optimal performance at a different operating point.
A variety of control algorithms can be implemented such as reducing current limits if the system is operating in higher than specified ambient temperatures, allowing the system to remain operational with limitations. Switching frequencies can be lowered to improve efficiency at lighter loads.
Another advantage is that faults are recognised by the DSP immediately and it can implement relevant protection features much faster than its analogue counterpart. Digital power supplies can also have features that allow monitoring of parameters that can help predict future failures, allowing preventative maintenance and reducing downtime. They’re also able to implement novel or application specific control schemes.
Digitally controlled power converters can easily interface with other systems using the I2C interface protocol, this also gives the option to communicate with the system remotely. Remote monitoring and control of the power supply is an advantageous feature in several industries such as horticulture lighting, data centres and entertainment events.
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