PowerNavigator 5.2 – RailScope

Added on April 29, 2015
Learn how RailScope simplifies system validation, giving users the ability to plot all device telemetry for up to four rails at a time.

Related Resources

PowerNavigator User Guide for POL PowerNavigator User Guide for POL

powernavigator-users-guide.pdf (7.14 MB)
Oct 2016

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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Brandon Howell and I handle Technical Marketing with Intersil's Digital Power Products. Today I'm gonna be talking about PowerNavigator 5.2, specifically our new RailScope feature.

To help me demonstrate that, I've got several of our demo boards connected to my PC here. Just going down the line, I have a ZL6105, that's a single-phase digital point of load controller, I have a ZL8800, that's a dual output or a dual-phase digital power controller, and I have a ZL8801, this is a dual-phase controller with a built-in current share. So all these boards are connected together via PMBus, and then with our dongle here, this is a USB to PMBus adapter, I have it plugged in to my PC.

I have already launched PowerNavigator 5.2 and we are about to connect our new and improved our PowerMap here. Each one of these boxes represents a rail for my connected hardware. I've gone ahead and I've labeled some of these, I've made a hypothetical system, I have an ASIC that has three inputs, and then a 3.3-volt auxiliary input down here. So let's go to the RailScope and see how this new feature works.

So the RailScope is like a low-bandwidth oscilloscope that's been built-in to PowerNavigator. In real time, it'll plot all the telemetry that we're gathering from all of our digital power supplies via PMBus. On the left-hand side here I have my different rails. I have the ZL6105, the ZL8801, and then the two outputs of the ZL8800. We've gone ahead and we've color-coded these, just like you'd find in an oscilloscope, and then on the plots here are the different colors correspond to the different supplies.

So, I'm gonna go ahead and turn on the outputs for these rails here. Right now I'm showing the input voltage, the output voltage, the load currents, and the internal temperature of all of these four devices. So this is my VM plot. I have a 12-volt input. This is my Vout plot. I've got one rail at 3.3 volts, another rail at 1.2, one rail at one volts, and another rail at 0.8 volt. This is my current. I have a couple of amps load on a few of these devices with my electronic load over here, and then here's my temperature. And you can see as soon as I enable the output, the temperature of these devices will go up by a few degrees because now they're enabled and switching.

If I walk down the line here of our RailScope feature, I have these different boxes. As I check and uncheck different features, the scopes here...the RailScope will automatically resize each of these view panes here to take full advantage of your screen real estate. So in this case I'm just looking at the input voltage. If I just want to look at the output voltage, I can turn that one on, and then turn the input voltage off. Now I'm plotting my input voltage over here.

With RailScope, you can plot up to four different parameters for four different devices, so in total that's 16 different parameters collected via PMBus in our dongle. Down here are the controls for the graphing. I can pause the graph. So if I'm looking at something and suddenly my output cuts out or my temperature increases, I can actually pause it. I can look at the scope and see exactly what happened and then I can play it again. If I want to stop it, I want to stop data collection altogether, I just hit the stop button and that'll stop the data collection until you hit play again. And when you hit play, it'll basically start from scratch.

We can adjust the update rate. So the update rate is how frequently all of these telemetry parameters are being updated by our software. So right now I have it at 100 milliseconds. So each of these telemetry values are being updated every 100 milliseconds. I can make it faster if I type in 20 milliseconds. You'll notice that now my display is updating faster because I'm updating all of the telemetry values at a faster rate. I can change how many points I display. Right now I'm displaying five points. If you look at my scale down here, one second per division, so each of these divisions is about one second in time.

If I want to display fewer points I can go down to 50, and then I can go back to the maximum of 500. And then as I change how many points are displayed, my timescale down here will also automatically update to reflect that. I can change the plot sizes. So with this little key down here I can decrease or increase the vertical sizing of my plots. I can do the same thing horizontally. I can decrease or increase the sizing.

So this allows me to really adjust the plot size for different screen resolutions, or if I want to look at this and also look at some monitor view on PowerNavigator, I can do that as well. So it's a very flexible interface and it really allows you to optimize the GUI for different screen real estates, exactly what you want to see from our hardware.

The final feature is our logging feature. So all the values we're looking at now can be automatically logged to my computer hard drive. If I enable logging, it collects all the telemetry values that are being displayed, as well as the status bits from each of our regulators. So once I turn on logging, it will collect that information, it will save that in an Excel CSV file. So that can be useful if you want to set the system up, you want to let it run, you want to go out to lunch, you want to collect data, and then come back and see how the system performed, all that data is gonna be visible with our logging feature. You can open up Excel, you can graph that, you can do all the data analysis you want on that at a later time.

So that's a quick overview of our RailScope feature. For more information, go to www.intersil.com. For PowerNavigator-specific information, please visit www.intersil.com/powernavigator.