Steve Sandler

Steve Sandler

Steve Sandler has been involved with power system engineering for nearly 40 years. Steve is the founder of PICOTEST.com, a company specializing in power integrity solutions including measurement products, services, and training. He frequently lectures and leads workshops internationally on the topics of power, PDN, and distributed systems and is a Keysight certified expert for EDA software.

He frequently writes articles and books related to power supply and PDN performance and his latest book, Power Integrity: Measuring, Optimizing and Troubleshooting Power-Related Parameters in Electronics Systems, was published by McGraw-Hill in 2014. 

ARTICLES

Why Full VRM Characterization is Essential

The voltage regulator module (VRM) contributes system level noise in several ways. Power integrity (PI) engineers tend to focus on transient voltage noise related to high-speed dynamic current. Many PI simulators ignore the VRM noise and use an ideal resistor and inductor model to represent the VRM. This overly simplistic approach misses many potential system level issues.


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Power Electronics vs. Power Integrity

The power electronics engineer and the power integrity engineer share a common goal: provide the system with the correct voltages, currents, and noise characteristics to achieve the desired performance. Unfortunately, they do not share much else. They generally use different tools, vocabulary, and figures of merit. As a result, both sides lose.


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Target Impedance Is Not Enough

Target impedance has become a standard tool when designing a power distribution network (PDN). It establishes a limit to the highest impedance the power rail on the die should see looking into the PDN. If the PDN impedance stays below this limit, even the worst-case transient current from the die will generate an acceptably low rail voltage noise.


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VRM Modeling: A Strategy to Survive the Collision of Three Worlds

This paper reviews four levels of VRM models that VRM designers, board level interconnect designers, semiconductor designers, and product managers often use to explore design tradeoffs throughout the PDN system. The choice of which one to use involves considering engineers’ levels of expertise and what problems they expect to analyze. Some tradeoffs and relative merits of the models are described.


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Characterizing and Selecting the VRM

VRMs and VRM controllers are often selected based on size, efficiency, price, or a relationship with the manufacturer. This often leads to a poor VRM selection, requiring additional engineering resources, greater time to market, as well as, higher BOM costs to correct the deficiencies. In this article, we evaluate the choices, define some useful figures of merit, and provide specific selection suggestions.


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Target Impedance Limitations and Rogue Wave Assessments on PDN Performance

A common design technique for power distribution networks (PDN) is the determination of the peak distribution bus impedance that will assure that the voltage excursions on the power rail will be maintained within allowable limits, generally referred to as the target impedance. In theory, the allowable target impedance is determined by dividing the tolerable voltage excursion by the maximum change in load current.


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