Power Semiconductors

AMS PMICs Address Nvidia’s Tegra K1

16 December 2014

Austrian chip manufacturer AMS AG (Unterpremstaetten, Austria) has developed a power management IC (PMIC), the AS3722, suitable for use with Nvidia's Tegra K1 processor for mobile applications and other multi-core ARM-based processors.

AMS is also releasing the AS3728, an 8A power stage to complement the AS3722's dc-dc controllers. The AS3728 provides for a streamlined power architecture in embedded systems, since it can supply the high current required by processor cores directly from a 12V power rail.

The AS3722 and multiple AS3728 devices have been selected for inclusion in Nvidia's 'Jetson' Tegra K1 reference design board. The Tegra K1 features a quad-core Cortex-A15 processor and 192 graphics processing cores that support the

CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) programming model. Using CUDA, the GPUs can be used for general purpose processing.

AMS said that the AS3722 and AS3728 together provide a complete solution to power management for the Tegra K1 and other multi-core ARM-based processors and suitable for inclusion in tablet computers and notebooks as well as in industrial applications such as computer vision and fanless computers.

One advantage of the AMS chip pair is that the feedback interface to the AS3722 only requires two wires – one control signal, one temperature signal – instead of the four or five wires typically required by other PMICs.

With fewer traces connecting the PMIC to the processor, the two devices can be placed far apart in the board layouts. This reduces the size and intensity of the hotspot around the processor compared to conventional power architectures in which the processor and PMIC, both handling high currents simultaneously, must be located side-by-side.

The AS3722 includes four step-down dc-dc regulators operating at up to 4MHz clock frequency, three step-down dc-dc controllers, 11 universal LDOs, a real-time clock with a 1-microamp total current requirement, and a control interface accessed via an I2C or serial peripheral interface. The AS3728 power stage has a highly thermally efficient design and supports two phases, each of 4A (maximum), with an independent control input for each.

The AS3722 is housed in a 124-pin ball grid array package that measures 8mm by 8mm by 0.5mm or a 108-pin chip-scale package that measures 4.8mm by 3.6mm by 0.4mm. The AS3728 is housed in a 2.4 mm nu 1.6mm by 0.4mm package. The AS3722 is priced at $4.12 each in 1,000-unit quantities. The AS3728 is $0.54. An evaluation kit is available online from AMS.

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