A basic header along with Linear’s LTpowerPlay can provide a powerful way to debug an entire power system.
Linear Technology has a large family of devices that provide a great deal of power and configurability for all applications. These parts additionally provide onboard nonvolatile memory (NVM) in the form of EEPROM to store and recall configuration parameters and, on some devices, provide a fault log and user scratch pad.
These power system management (PSM) devices’ architectures allow them to power up and load the desired configuration parameters from this NVM autonomously with no I²C or firmware interaction required.
There are many options available for programming LTC PSM products and it is possible to implement multiple strategies on a single board to fully take advantage of the powerful tools at your disposal.
Linear Technology strongly recommend having an accessible header on your board that allows access to the VCC lines of the PSM devices, I²C clock (SCL), I²C data (SDA) and a ground. Having this header provides an entry point for LTpowerPlay, which not only allows you to program the board easily, but also gives access to a very powerful tool suite to read telemetry, change variables on the fly and perform debug.
During the debug stages this is extremely valuable because in today’s constantly evolving power environments, the final requirements for the power supply and overall system may not be known until well into the development cycle. The ability to tweak or completely change the configuration to fit system requirements at any point in the design process can be invaluable.
For prototypes or low to medium volume production runs, the basic header may be all you need to program the PSM devices by attaching an external USB dongle such as the DC1613A.
To reiterate, having this header is resolutely encouraged independent of which programming method you choose. The short-list of reasons includes the ability to program your PSM devices onboard powered via the dongle and the ability to keep the brains of the PSM device alive, independent of the power supply rails on the board, which is extremely useful in any debugging situation. When used in conjunction with LTpowerPlay software, the device then provides a powerful way to debug an entire power system. Failures are quickly diagnosed using telemetry, fault status registers and the fault logs. The final system configuration can be quickly developed and stored to the PSM products’ respective nonvolatile memories all using this one interface.
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