10xE-Talk: Power Delivery in Integrated Circuits

10xE-Talk: Power Delivery in Integrated Circuits

10xEngineers has a proud tradition of 10xE-Talks, a weekly talk session arranged for the purpose of continuous learning within the company. The objective of the talks is to keep the team engaged, on an ongoing basis, and use these sessions to help build necessary skills and knowledge within the young engineers.

As per tradition, a series of recent talks were held on the topic of ‘Power Delivery in Integrated Circuits’. Power delivery in SoCs is resource intensive. In order to keep up with the speed, power and thermal requirements of circuits, careful consideration has to be given to power delivery network and regulators

In an ideal scenario, the source voltage to a load should be held constant, irrespective of the loading conditions. However, on silicon, this is not possible, due to sudden changes in the current and operational voltages, routing parasitics, power and thermal requirements, and noise considerations. For small or relatively simple circuits, the effects of voltage change are insignificant. However, for larger and more complex ICs, the danger of damaging the IC increases tenfold if proper consideration is not given to its power delivery.

The PMIC (Power Management IC) on SoCs is responsible for providing different voltage levels to the SoC. It has all the required  Voltage Regulation Modules (VRM) in it. Broadly speaking, a VRM falls into two main categories, linear and switching. Linear regulators are favorable for on-chip integration due to their small size but are less efficient compared to the switching regulators. The efficiency of linear regulators can be improved if they are operated at very low input voltage to output voltage differentials, as  low drop-out regulators (LDO). Switching regulators, on the other hand, are more efficient but require big inductors and capacitors making them less favorable for on-chip integration.


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