Nordic Semi Intros Trio of PMICs Aimed at Wireless Designs
Offering new chip-scale package (CSP) options and support for higher battery termination voltages, Nordic Semiconductor today has released three new PMICs.
Power management ICs (PMICs) are a critical part of today’s sophisticated consumer electronics system designs. Cost and size continue to be driving factors for engineers for PMICs.
Feeding those needs, today Nordic Semiconductor announced the addition of three new versions of its nPM1100 PMIC family.
The nPM1100 is a dedicated PMIC that embeds a dual-mode configurable buck regulator and an integrated battery charger.
In this article, we examine the features of these new PMICs and how they address some specific issues in wireless product designs. Nordic says the new PMICs address two key issues: right-sizing the packaging for lower costs, and supporting higher battery charging termination voltages.
PMICs with Lower Cost QFN Packaging
According to Nordic, the nPM1100 PMIC product range has previously only been available in ultra-compact 2.1 mm × 2.1 mm chip-scale package (CSP) form factor. The first new PMIC announced today is provided in a more mainstream 4 mm × 4 mm QFN (quad flat no-lead) IC package.
The QFN packaging of the versions of the nPM1100 PMICs allow for lower cost manufacturing, and several engineering advantages.
Nordic says that CSP- and QFN-packaged PMICs really fill different needs. For their part, CSP devices are vital for designs where defined by extreme size constraints. In its small form, for instance, the nPM1100 PMIC takes up a tiny 22 mm2.
When size is not a factor however, QFNs enable easier and lower cost manufacturing. They also mean simpler design, development, and verification. Moreover, QFNs offer better thermal and vibration robustness compared to CSP, according to the company.
Support for Higher Termination Voltages
Termination voltage—the maximum voltage a battery should reach during charging—is used by a battery charger circuit to switch from constant current charging to constant voltage charging. This value is ultimately used to determine when a battery is fully charged, and so when to stop (terminate) charging.
Nordic says that its second and third new nPM1100 variants support higher maximum (termination) battery charging voltages (VTERM) that are required to fully charge certain types of lithium-ion cells commonly used in portable wireless products.
The previous nPM1100's maximum termination voltage was below that of some of the new lithium-ion batteries that are becoming increasingly popular in wearable products. Nordic is aiming its new PMICs at applications such as wearables, mouse devices for gaming, and in-ear headphones.
The new nPM1100 variants with higher termination voltage are expected to maximize the application range and power optimization potential of Nordic's PMICs. These variants will also be offered in either a CSP or QFN package, says the company.
Nordic says these three new nPM1100 product variants are in volume production and available to now. Importantly, because all settings are pin configurable, all nPM1100 variants require no configuration software to operate. More information is available in the nPM1100 product brief.
New High Termination Voltage Flavor of Eval Kit
Along with this PMIC announcement, Nordic is also rolling out a new version of its existing evaluation kit for nPM1100 devices. Called the nPM1100 EKHV, the new eval kit version can be used for evaluating the higher termination voltage in the new devices.
The new nPM1100 EKHV kit shares all the features of the original nPM1100 EK version. It provides switches for selectable settings and buttons to enter and exit ship mode. There are connectors for batteries, USB and headers for all pins on the PMIC. The board supports charging batteries and powering devices with the header pins and battery connectors.
The new nPM1100 EKHV evaluation kit version lets you evaluate the higher termination voltage in the new PMICs.
The kit’s DIP-switches can be used for configuration options such as selecting the charger's termination voltage, regulated output voltage, charge current and VBUS current limit, and fixing the buck regulator mode to PWM mode only for cleaner operation.
Also included in the kit are indicator LEDs for charge and error indication. Because there is no programmable logic on the board, setup of the nPM1100 EKHV requires no programming to begin testing.
All images used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor