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Advanced control techniques for multi-phase DC/DC converters for automotive microcontroller applications

Simplified model of a 2 phase buck converter with digital control.


Project staff
DI Marc Kanzian

Project start

Project description
The power consumption of automotive microcontrollers is rapidly growing due to an increasing amount of required features, such as autonomous driving. In order to keep the power losses to a minimum, the DC/DC converters that supply the microcontroller need to be highly efficient.
One approach to improve the conversion efficiency at high output powers is to use time-interleaved multiphase topologies. The idea is to use multiple power stages and inductors in order to reduce the current per phase, which reduces the conduction losses and thus higher efficiency can be achieved.
Since the DC/DC converter has to provide a tightly regulated DC output that does not depend on the operating conditions (e.g. input voltage, load current, …), a feedback loop with an appropriate control law is an integral part of such a converter.
For time-interleaved DC/DC converters advanced control techniques are necessary in order to optimize the operation of the converter. For example, under light load conditions switching losses dominate. Therefore, the number of active phases has to be dynamically selected (phase shedding). Moreover, the amount of current that each phase provides has to be regulated (current balancing).
The main goal of this project is to investigate suitable control techniques aimed at optimized power conversion for time-interleaved DC/DC converters and their implementation in a mixed-signal ASIC controller. Several topics must be investigated, such as system-level analysis of the converter and implementation details, e.g. current balancing without current sensing or with only limited current information.


1) Kanzian M., Agostinelli M., Huemer M.: Modeling and Simulation of Digital Control Schemes for Two-Phase Interleaved Buck Converters, in: Proceedings of the 24th Austrian Workshop on Microelectronics (Austrochip 2016), Page(s) 7-12, IEEE, 2016.