PowerNavigator's Features and Command Line Tool

Added on October 26, 2013
Read and write every PMBus command without having to memorize any code by using PowerNavigator's expert mode and pre-loaded command line library.

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

To access a lot of the advanced features behind the digital power products from Intersil, you really want to have individual control and access to all the PMBus commands that set up the monitoring and configuration of those parameters. Now, with the monitoring view, you have basic information that comes back in terms of what you can set up. There is an Expert Mode that you can go into, which utilizes something we call a "Command Line Tool." This gives you ability to read and write every single PMBus command to the products.

To show you how the Command Line Tool works, we're just gonna start from a basic power tree that we have with two different rails that are set up. If you access through the File menu at the top and then click "Command Tool," that Command Tool will come up. Now, this is set up per rail so you have to make sure that you've got the right target selected, which is always shown on the top right. So right now, it's set up for the ZL8800 at Phase 0. If you wanna switch it to the other output, click on the target and let's just move it over to Phase 1. The main benefit of the Command Line Tool is ability to read and write every single PMBus command within the product.

Now, you can go in at the top here. You can click "Command" and you can type in any command you want to change such as the output command. The problem is how you remember what those PMBus commands are. If you don't wanna look through the datasheet, the quick and easy way is click on the search command. This will list every single command that is enabled in the product. So you can look it up by a command code, command name, or even command groups. And a group is effectively our logical partitioning behind the different commands. So for instance, if you're looking for something based on temperature, there is a temperature command and you'll see every single PMBus command that relates into temperature, either an over temperature fault, under temperature fault limits. They'll all be grouped within this one setting. So let's start with something simple like the output voltage command.

So I'm gonna go back into this Command Line Tool and I'm gonna start typing the VOUT_COMMAND. The PMBus command is just VOUT_COMMAND. So double-click on this and it pops up and says I have it set to 1.5 volts, which has a HEX command of 3000. Now, HEX gets a little difficult to look at and read and adjust so we always have the numerical version. We can set there and adjust this to any value you want, so maybe we change it to two volts. And you can see right away the HEX value appropriately adjust for the device, and the "Send" command has now highlighted yellow. The importance of this is we've changed it in the GUI. It hasn't communicated to the device. So if we had hardware connected, we could just click "Send" and we'd write over to the device and adjust the output voltage on the fly.

If you want to add a couple different commands on here, we can keep dropping down boxes by clicking that plus symbol or conversely using that minus symbol to remove them. And now, we're gonna add in as many commands as we want to if we're quickly adjusting between one parameter and another. The other unique benefit of this Command Line Tool is even with complex commands, it allows you to see all the different bit fields that it gets selected and set up. That way, you're not looking through hundreds of pages of documentation trying to understand exactly which bit controls which parameter.

So to give you an example of that, let's look at the command such as USER_CONFIG. So if I type in USER_CONFIG and double-click on it, you can see there's all these different commands. Instead of looking at the HEX code or maybe the binary code for this and understanding which 0 or which 1 do I change, we can look through and quickly see all the different settings. So for instance, what's the Minimum Duty Cycle? Do you want 0.2%? You click on this box and you can see all the different parameters: 0.59, 0.98, or 1.37. You just click on those and the appropriate PMBus command is changed. And you can go through this with every single command to make sure you fine tune in the primaries exactly as you desire.

And to another feature of the Command Line Tool, let's say there's a couple commands like you use every single day and you don't want to keep entering them in. So for instance, in this example, I've used the VOUT_COMMAND, and maybe the TON_DELAY and the TON_RISE. So you're trying to individually set the startup times for every single power rail. Instead of typing those in each time, you can actually make your own command set.

So you click "Make Command Set," and let's type it in and say this is "Startup." This is then saved into the device. So if we come in and we clear this out, you'll see your replaced command set and the startup already pre-saved. And this will be pre-saved. So every time you start up the GUI, that command set will be there. And click on that, you see those three commonly used commands instantly appear. This saves a lot of time especially with repetitive commands when you try to debug a new system.

At the very end of adjusting all these different parameters, what you wanna do is either save this back as a project file for the entire system, or you may want to export it out as a configuration file. A configuration file is a list of all the commands and appropriate settings for that one target device. You can do this by clicking on the "File" and then "Save Configuration File." This will save the file into the path that's indicated on the screen. And we can now go in and edit this with any text editor.

Once you save the command file, you can always load it back in if you need to make edits through the Command Line Tool, or the other method you can do is open up through a text file. And this is very useful for the purposes of either archiving the configuration file, setting up external programming houses to program a device. So let's take a look exactly what the configuration file looks like.

So we opened up the configuration file in a text editor and we look through it. You can see all the different parameters that have been adjusted and set up for the device. So as you walk through the top, you can see at the very beginning is the prod information. What's the target rail that was set up and configured? What was the last revision date when you made changes to the configuration file?

Toward the bottom are all the different commands that have been changed such as the output voltage, or maybe it's the output voltage fault limits. The one thing you'll notice right away is this file, there's only about 8 commands that are shown, but the device has over 100 PMBus commands that can be individually adjusted and set up. The reason for this is the configuration file will only show those commands that are different than the default settings within the product. That way, it's a very quick and easy way to see what things have changed, especially if you're using this from an archive process.

Look at each individual command. What you could see is the PMBus command name, the HEX value for what data is gonna be written to that command, and then on the right after the comment is common numerical value. It is a more user-friendly way of reading it. For instance, VOUT_COMMAND is set to HEX value 4000, but that really corresponds to 2-volt output voltage setting. What we've just shown is the versatility and power of the Command Line Tool to set up and adjust every single one of the PMBus commands within the product. That way, you configure it to exactly the personality that you would like to see. For more information on how to use the PowerNavigator GUI, please continue watching the remaining videos.