Electronic Design

Ultra-Low-Voltage DC-DC Converter ICs

Sponsored by: <A HREF="http://www.national.com" TARGET=_blank>NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR</A>

Why is it necessary to use ultra-low-voltage dc-dc converters?
Published by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) projects lower operating voltages and higher current through 2016. In 2004, the lowest operating voltage for low-powered ICs was 1.0 V. The figure shows the projected IC operating voltages from 2003 to 2016, when the operating voltage should drop to 0.5 V.

What is the definition of ultra-low voltage?
No standard definition for ultra-low voltage exists. However, typical semiconductor industry use is now 1.0 V and below.

What is the purpose of going to lower operating voltages?
Lowering the operating voltage permits more transistors on a single silicon chip while reducing power dissipation. This involves reducing transistor channel length and improving gate dielectrics to achieve higher circuit densities, which allows reduced spacing between neighboring transistors.

What is the importance of efficiency for ultra-low-voltage dc-dc converters?
Efficiency is critical for battery life-the higher the IC converter efficiency, the longer the usable battery operation before recharging. High efficiency and minimum current are important for the converter's standby, shutdown, and operational modes.

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