Using AMP DC/DC converters to achieve true digital power interoperability

January 13, 2017 // By Graham Prophet
In its on-line series of technical articles, distributor Digi-Key has posted a guide to using the products of the Alliance between Murata, Ericsson Power modules and CUI – collectively, “Architects of Modern Power (AMP)” to exploit the potential of PMBus system management.

The article notes that despite widespread adoption of digital power techniques, achieving true interoperability between devices from different manufacturers to enable multi-sourcing of products is the exception rather than the rule. “This ability to have multiple sources for digitally-controlled DC/DC converter modules is critical for designers of systems for telecom, datacom, and datacenter applications, where both efficiency and design longevity are important requirements.”


Digital power based on PMBus and its SMBus communications structure has allowed designers to leverage software-based power control to achieve high levels of overall system efficiency. But PMBus didn’t go deep enough. It has taken efforts like the AMP Group to realize a level of device interoperability that will allow a converter from one company to be considered a [true] second source from another company. This ensures supply-chain continuity, rapid replacement of products in the field, and provides the necessary assurance of design longevity.


This article reviews, in brief, the prinicples of PMBus (and SMBus) before introducing a digitally-controlled DC/DC converter and how to use it. It concludes with a look at devices that companies in the AMP Alliance present as fully interoperable; and suggests next steps for multi-sourced DC/DC converters.