Learn how Intersil's new PowerNavigator software can be used to design future power systems and even configure devices before you have an actual demo or eval board.


In this video, we're gonna show you how to use a new PowerNavigator GUI to set up an offline project. What we mean by offline project is the ability to have an entire system architected and crafted without any hardware attached. This is great way to come in and initially design your system. You can play around with different input, output voltages. You can drag and drop in different products and see what fits best for your architecture. Once you've got it optimized, you can then go in to the entire design procedure and setup the individual parameters. That way, when your hardware finally comes back, you're ready to go. You don't have any delay time in setting up and configuring the products. So let's show you how this works.

We can do this by launching PowerNavigator. When the launch screen comes up, you'll see you have three different choices. You can scan devices, build an offline system, or launch from a project. Since we're gonna start a brand new project, we're gonna click on the "Build Offline System" and push "Start." Now, what we mean by offline is offline in the sense of no hardware is attached. So this can be run completely on your laptop without any connection to the website or any connection to the power board. You can set up your entire power rails, get the sequencing to work, get the full protection set up and save the project. That way, you're ready to go when your hardware first arrives.

The first screen that you'll see that pops up is the Part Library, and this is the place where you can set and control and drag in any products you'd want to use. Now, all these screens are configurable. So at the bottom, you can see a message viewer and the memory tools. We don't need these right now so we'll just hide these out of the way. So let's go ahead and set up a system. You can see we've got a standard source that's coming in. And maybe for identification purposes, we want to name this a 12V input.

For this design, we're gonna use the ZL8800, which is either a dual phase or a dual output product. So I grab this device and drag it into the system. You'll see you will drop in and it says default of 3.3V output. Now, this is automatically configured two-phase because you can see these two green dots. As I scroll over them, they turn yellow. These represent the two different phases. Another way you can see this is by clicking into this tab on the top right. Right now, it's a power view. But if I switch it to the Phase List, you can see that calls out as an ZL8800 Phase 0 and the Phase 1 configured on that output rail.

Let's go ahead and make this a single output version only. So we're gonna take one of these dots and drag it down onto this node. And now, we've got two different outputs set up, and maybe it wasn't of different voltages. Top one at 2.5V and the second one at 1.8. We can also add in any other devices such as the ZL9006M module. I can drop in and put on a node here, or if you want to cascade it. Maybe you want a 12V, a 5V converter, and it go from 5V to 3.3V. I can set there and do that by grabbing this and dropping it anywhere else on the schematic. So let's set this up for 12V to 5V, and now 5V to 3.3V. So this completes the power tree, which gives you a quick glance at how your system's going to be architected.

Now, to go in and set up each individual projects, we can go in and use the Monitoring View, the Sequencing, or the Command Tools. So let's go ahead and go into Monitoring View and set up the devices. So clicking on the tab, you can see it comes up and it says Rail number 1, and that's because that's the one that's highlighted. You can see that blue box that rings Rail number 1. If you click on any other rail at the bottom, we can change which one's monitored, Rail 0, Rail 1, or Rail 2. If you want to have them all displayed, all you need to do is hold the control key down and click on all the different rails.

The first place to start here is Rail 0, Rail 1, Rail 2. It's not the most descriptive term. And it's easy with multiple rails to get confused on which one's your memory, which one's your CPU core, which one's the FPGA. So we could just easily go in and name them. Just going into the Power View, we can double-click and where it says Rail 0, maybe this is the CPU. Rail 1, double-click on this, maybe this is an I/O. And then the Rail 2, we can name this anything else. Maybe it's a Memory rail. But whatever you need, you can just type it in. So now, we have all the rails appropriately labeled. We can go through and we can configure the device.

So what you can see on the Monitoring View is ability to go in and click on any of these parameters: Output Voltage, Output Current, or even the Input Current. If you click on the little dialog box on the bottom right of each one, it will launch up the different parameters around that command. So in this box, you can see we have all the parameters related to the output voltage that can be easily adjusted at our fingertips. This selects two things, the parameters of the device and also how you want to see the read-out on the GUI. So for instance, at the bottom, you can see the output voltage is 5V. Or maybe we want to increase this to 5.5V. And you can see how it updates it on the screen, on Monitoring View, and also on the Power Map view. So everything is linked. You have multiple places you can change it.

At this dialog, you can see Output Voltage Fault Limits, Under Voltage Fault Limits. Everything can be adjusted. And you have the option of putting in terms of percentages or an absolute voltage all by selecting the check box below toggling between how you want it to be, voltage or percentage. And you can toggle the check box below, so if you want to enter a fault limit in terms of a percentage or as an absolute voltage. It's your choice, whatever makes it easiest for setting up the device. The same can be applied with the output current. Clicking at that little box on the bottom right, you can see...you can set up the overcurrent volt limits, the undercurrent volt limits, and also how the device is displayed.

When you finish designing your entire power system, the next step to do is to save this project. That way, you can access it at any time in the future. In order to do this, just go to the File menu at the very top and click "Save." By saving it as a project file, what it does is it saves all the settings behind this, all the devices, how it's configured, how a device is sequenced. That way, you can design and tweak the entire system offline without hardware and have it perfectly ready for when your boards come back from PCB house. Now, behind all these products, there's a lot more parameters that can be individually tuned and adjusted. Now, these are all displayed just from the complexity. But if you have to go in and tune each one of these, there is a mode called the Command Line Tool. And in the next video, I'll show you how to use this.