PowerCompass Help

The PowerCompass tool helps users quickly identify parts that match their specific requirements, set up multiple rails, perform high-level system analysis, and generate custom reference design files.

Getting Started

The PowerCompass™ tool is available exclusively as a web app; the offline downloadable app is no longer available. However, users can work offline using the web app.

The Power Cross Reference / Part Selector tool is available as a separate downloadable tool.

If you're feeling lost, let PowerCompass help navigate your power management options!

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Feature Availability
Start from scratch, or use templates for FPGA, MCU, etc.  
Enter inputs/outputs/specs and get suggested parts  
Compare and select devices  
Get high-level summary analysis  
Generate reference design files  
Automatically build block diagram  
Part Selector (manual + competitor cross reference)  
Load/save project files  
Ability to drag to re-order rails  
Mobile support  
Import Xilinx and Altera PowerEstimator files  
Advanced sequencing support  
Offline mode  
Connect to PowerNavigator and iSim  

  Included Feature       Included Feature in Future Version

Using the PowerCompass Tool

PowerCompass Online Tool Feature Overview

1. Define Requirements

PowerCompass multi-load configurator input requirements screen

Define your system input and output requirements. You can build a system from scratch, or you can choose from over 300 templates covering popular FPGA platforms such as Xilinx, Altera, Lattice, and Microsemi/Actel.

2. Select Parts

PowerCompass multi-load configurator select parts screen

Once you’ve got your rails identified, suggested parts are just a click away — including both single output devices, and dual devices that could serve more than one output. You can choose as many parts as you’d like to compare.

3. Compare & Select Parts

PowerCompass multi-load configurator summary analysis screen

To help you finalize part selections, the app looks at the efficiency data across your specified output operational range, and presents system cost and graphs showing the system efficiency, power dissipation and junction temperature.

4. Get Reference Design

PowerCompass multi-load configurator custom reference design

For schematic-enabled parts, you can generate customized reference design files to get a BOM and a set of base schematics with all the associated blocks connected together — simplifying your design effort.

PowerCompass Online Tool Detailed Instructions

Select a Template or Start from Scratch

You can build a system from scratch, you can import an FPGA vendor (e.g., Xilinx, Altera) power estimator file, or you can choose from over 300 templates covering popular FPGA platforms such as Xilinx, Altera, Lattice, and Microsemi/Actel, and an expanding portolio of Renesas microcontrollers.

These templates help you get started on your design by providing the most common rail configurations. You can change any of the parameters as needed to match your actual design.

Contact us if you'd like to request a new template to be added.

You can also open a previously saved project.

How to Import Xilinx Power Estimator Files

  1. Open your Xilinx Power Estimator Excel Spreadsheet and export the contents to a .pwr file.
  2. Select the Use Project Template or File choice from the Start screen.
  3. Either browse the files on your computer or
  4. Drag the .pwr file from your computer into the browser window.

How to Import Altera Files

The Altera power estimator file is generated as a large .XLS file with multiple worksheets, which can cause some older browsers to process the file very slowly. If you are experiencing long loading times, please save the file as a .CSV file for faster processing.

  1. Open the Power Estimator File in Excel
  2. Power Estimator example in Excel

  3. Select the Report tab to make it the active sheet.
  4. Report as active worksheet

  5. From the File menu, select Save As and choose CSV (comma separated value) as the file type from the drop down menu. Choose Save Active Sheet if prompted.
  6. Save as .CSV file

Specify Rail Requirements

Configure a complete power map of your system by entering your system input and output rail specifications, current requirements, sequencing, and more.

  1. Enter your system input voltage and current specifications. If you selected a template, the input, output and current specifications are already filled in.
  2. Rename rail names and outputs to match system names as desired.
  3. Select a source rail for your output using the drop-down box in the Output Rails section. This source rail can either be a system Input Rail or an output of another regulator, indicated by this icon:
  4. Enter your output regulator specifications as needed, including the sequencing if needed. Additional options are found under the More column:
    • Select Power Good to show only parts that include power good support
    • Select Enable Pin Input to show only parts that include an enable pin
    • Select LDO to limit results for that rail to linear regulators only. Note: if you select LDO, the Sync options will automatically be disabled.
    • Select Sync Input or Sync Output to only show parts with sync options. Note: not available if you choose the LDO option.
  5. The system keeps track of power requirements at each input rail and output regulator by using the overall Assumed Minimum Efficiency (default = 85%), which can be adjusted as needed by typing in a new value in that field.
  6. Tap Find Solutions to see suggested part results

Block Diagram Interface

You can also specify your rail requirements using the Block Diagram view. You can switch between the Table view and the Diagram view. Changes made in either interface are automatically updated in the other interface.

  1. Tap the Diagram selection near the top of the screen.
  2. Tap Add a Rail to create a new system rail, or tap Add an Output to add a new output rail.
  3. Tap the Expand icon to see the diagram in full screen, or use the Zoom in/out buttons to zoom into details of the diagram.
  4. Tap the PNG icon to save an image of the diagram to your computer.

Select from Suggested Parts

  • Results are grouped by Topology (Mixed, Analog, Analog Integrated FET, Analog Module, Digital, Digital Integrated FET, or Digital Module)
  • Tap the Output rail to see suggested parts for that rail, or choose Expand All to see suggestions for all rails.
  • Sort results by tapping the column header. A red arrow indicates the column being sorted, and the sorting order.
  • Limit or expand the number of results per Topology (default is 5; there's no practical limit) to see more or fewer results in each section.
  • Dual output options are shown with the rail names connected; single outputs are shown below the dual output options.
  • If you intend to generate a reference design, look for parts that are schematic enabled, indicated with this icon:
  • Important: You must select at least one part per output rail in order to continue. You can select as many parts are you want per rail, and you'll be able to compare the performance among the parts in the next step.
  • Tap Continue to generate a summary analysis to help you fine tune your design.

Refine System Settings and Compare Parts

On the Compare and Select screen, graphs modeling the system efficiency and power dissipation appear at the top of the page, and the estimated system cost (based on 1k pricing) appears at the bottom of the output table. If you selected multiple parts for an output in the previous step, you'll see a drop-down menu that allows you to switch parts. As you select parts, these summary graphs and costs will dynamically update.

  • For each output, tap the Output summary row or the plus icon to see detailed graphs.
  • You can change the default values for Light Load, Typical Load and Max Load to best represent the system you are designing for.
  • Tap the part number above the graph to show/hide the chart lines for that part. Note: showing/hiding parts on the graph does not affect which part is selected for the output; use the drop-down menu on the output summary row to select the parts for the output.

Generate Reference Design

Once you have chosen the devices that best work for your system, you can generate customized reference design files to get a BOM and a set of base schematics with all the associated blocks connected together. Only schematic-enabled parts will be included, indicated with this icon: 

  1. Tap the Generate Reference Design button at the top or bottom of the page
  2. Type in a name for your project. This name will be added to your custom reference design files, so shorter is better.
  3. Sign in (or register if you don't have an account) if you're not already signed in
  4. Tap Continue to generate your custom reference design files.

You'll see an animation on the screen as your files are generated. Once complete, the files will appear on the web page, and they will be emailed to the email address listed on your intersil.com account. This email will also contain a link where you can download the files for a limited time.

Working with Projects

You can save a project, then edit, copy or delete that project. You can also send projects to another user.

Save Project

  1. From anywhere in the project, tap Save from the top menu.
  2. If you are not signed in, you will be prompted to sign in to your intersil.com account.
  3. Name the project with a unique name.

Open a Saved Project

Completed projects are projects that have a reference design generated. In progress projects do not have a reference design.

Note: you must be signed in to view a list of your saved projects.

  1. Sign in to your intersil.com account.
  2. From the main starting screen, tap the project you want to open, and tap the Continue button.
  3. Alternately, choose the Projects option from the top menu.

Edit Project

Note: once a reference design has been generated, you can no longer edit the project. You will need to copy the project and edit the copied version.

  1. Choose the Projects option from the top menu.
  2. For In Progress projects, tap Edit next to the project you want to edit. Then make any edits you wish to make. Tap Save when finished.
  3. For Completed project, tap Copy and Edit next to the project you want to edit. Make any edits you wish to make. Tap Save when finished.

Delete Project

  1. Choose the Projects option from the top menu.
  2. Tap Delete next to the project you want to delete, and confirm the deletion.

Send Project

You can send a project to another user (or even yourself). All selections are saved, including any reference designs that are generated.

  1. From within a project choose Send from the top menu.
  2. Enter the email address of the user where you want to send the project.
  3. Alternatively, choose the Projects option from the top menu, then tap Send next to the project you want to send. Enter the email address of the user where you want to send the project.

Receive Sent Project

When a user sends you a project, you can review the details without saving. If you want to keep the project for later use, you must save it in your own list of projects.

  1. Tap on the link from the email sent from the system.
  2. Once the project is open, tap Save from the top menu.

Work Offline

You can perform many tasks offline, and then sync your projects when you are back online.

Note: offline access is supported in Chrome and Firefox only.

Disabled Offline Activities

The following activities are not available in offline mode:

  • You cannot load saved projects.
  • You cannot generate a reference design.

How to Work Offline

  1. If your computer loses Internet access, the PowerCompass tool will automatically switch to Offline mode.
  2. You can force your browser to offline mode by clicking on the Online button, and selecting Switch to Offline Mode.
    Note that you will need to visit the PowerCompass tool at least once prior to going offline in order to download the part data.
  3. If you know you will be working offline, you can force the tool to refresh the data by selecting Refresh Offline Data before going offline.
  4. When you are ready to start working online, select Switch to Online Mode by tapping the Offline button in the header of the tool.
PowerCompass Part Selector / Cross Reference

The PowerCompass Part Selector tools lets you easily find Intersil parts using competitor part numbers, or by manually entering specs. Sort by your most important criteria to find the best matches.

Downloading the PowerCompass Part Selector

To use the PowerCompass Part Selector tool, download the file to your local computer, and open the file.

If you see a warning bar saying "Security Warning: Macros have been disabled", tap the Enable Content button.

The Part Selector tool will automatically check to see if updates are available. If your version is out of date, visit intersil.com/powercompass-offline to download the latest version. You can also force the tool to check for updates by tapping the Check for Updates Now button on the Start Here tab within the tool.

Competitor Power Cross-Reference

The Part Selector tool allows you to take a BOM (bill of materials) of power parts and quickly generate a list of comparable Intersil parts. The tool compares the parametric data of competitor devices and Intersil devices, and presents a logically sorted listed of which Intersil devices perform the same function as the competitor devices.

The Part Selector graphically highlights each device parameter on the corresponding Intersil devices to quickly show which devices are As Good, Better, Near Spec or Outside Spec limits so you can quickly make decisions on the best fit parts for your needs.

  1. Navigate to the Part Selector tab within PowerCompass
  2. Use the drop-down menu to select a competitor part from the listing
  3. If you don't have a competitor part, you can manually enter your specs
  4. Click on the part number to visit the product web page for that part

The competitor parametric data specs will be loaded into the top of the page, and the best case matches are shown in the lower area of the page. Results are displayed based on how well they match the competitor device.

Manual Input

If you don't have a competitor part, or you simply want to enter the specs manually, you can easily do so.

  1. Click on the Manual Input tab, or select "{{ Manual Input}}" from the drop-down menu in the Part Selector tool
  2. Enter your specifications into the fields. Note: if you do not need a min/max range for VIN or VOUT, simply enter the same value for both fields
  3. Optional: The tool will recommend a topology based on your inputs. If you want to override the recommended topology, choose from the Seelct Topology drop-down to limit results to particular device types (analog power module, buck converter, etc.)
  4. If you would like for Intersil to consider adding these specifications to the tool, tap the "Send Request for Part to be Added to Database" button
  5. Tap the Show Results button to see your results displayed in the Part Selector
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I can't load Altera files — I just see the Processing message

Some older browsers may have difficulty processing the .XLS file. Please save the Report worksheet as a .CSV file. Detailed Instructions

How is temperature handled?

The tool allows you to change the ambient temperature with a slider, and recalculates junction temperature, providing visual warnings if the junction temperature estimate is greater than 115°C. All estimates are done with ThetaJA with 0 airflow. Note: these values are estimates and are no substitute for actual characterization in a prototype.

I got the following warning error when looking at the Compare and Select screen. What does it mean?

One or more of the selected parts have voltage settings that fall outside the efficiency data available; that data is not included in the summary graphs.

The PowerCompass tool uses the datasheet curves to build the efficiency data. If you choose voltage settings that are outside the efficiency data values available in the datasheet, then "—" will appear in the tables for that part, indicating efficiency data is not available for your input/output voltage settings for that part, and efficiency data for that part is excluded from the system level graphs. You can ignore that message if the efficiency data is not important to your design, or choose a different part.

How is the efficiency data calculated?

Efficiency data is taken from the datasheet efficiency curves. The PowerCompass app finds the nearest efficiency curve to the specified input/output voltages. If the curve is found within a specified tolerance, then the app will use linear interpolation to find output current points between actual data points. If the nearest data curve is outside the specified data tolerance, then no curve will be displayed. For example, if you specify 10V, but the datasheet specifies 9V and 12V efficiency data, the app calculates the efficiency data at 10V, and plots the charts accordingly. If efficiency data is missing for any of the selected parts, a warning message will appear, indicating that the summary charts are based on an incomplete data set.

What is the max current value based on?

The max current value is based on the values found in the datasheet for that part.

Does PowerCompass look at transient response and allow me to build Bode plots?

No, our iSim simulation tool is required to simulate the transient response and build Bode plots.

Why can't I download the offline Excel version of the PowerCompass tool?

The online version of the PowerCompass tool replaces the Excel-based offline tool, and includes all of the functionality of the Excel-based offline tool, including the ability to work offline. The online web app is much faster and easier to use. The PowerCompass Part Selector tool is still available as an Excel-based downloadable tool.

What happened to the FPGA Reference Design Generator?

The online PowerCompass tool replaces the FPGA Reference Design Generator, and provides support for many more FPGA platforms and vendors.

How does this tool work with the PowerNavigator™ GUI?

The PowerNavigator™ GUI assumes you know what parts you want to work with; the PowerCompass tool helps you figure out what parts to use. The PowerNavigator GUI is primarily targeted to digital power parts; the PowerCompass app covers a wider range of parts. The PowerNavigator full development system allows you to connect hardware, and configure and monitor your system.