Digitally controlled power (DCP) has the potential to bring flexibility and programmability to power supplies. This could lead to increased performance and reliability while reducing complexity and time-to-market. Yet DCP is only a precursor to the real revolution coming in power management, the implementation of power operating systems (POSs).
DCP integrates microcontrollers, digital signal processors (DSPs), and application-specific silicon with software algorithms for system monitoring, internal and external communication, and power-system control. It enables the introduction of POSs, which will yield significant system-level improvements that cannot be achieved through other means.
POSs can perform multiple tasks, including system- and component-level performance monitoring, system configuration, system and component debugging, management of communications-bus protocols, and real-time parametric programming at the system-, bus-, and power-management component levels. Their benefits include reduced time-to-market, less board space, lower costs, greater reliability, increased efficiency, and real-time system-level performance optimization.
The battle over the POS market will be fierce. The POS largely will determine the blueprint and part selection of electronic systems. So, the company that controls the POS for a piece of electronic equipment will control that product's approved vendor list and its margins throughout the design chain.
Many companies are vying for a position in the nascent POS market. These include systems integrators, proprietary POS providers, open POS providers, custom power component conversion suppliers, and standard power component conversion suppliers.