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Pluggable Voltage Regulator Phase Circuitry

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000014084D
Original Publication Date: 2001-May-13
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-19

Publishing Venue



Today we design motherboards that can accomodate a wide range of microprocessor DC Power requirements. This adds unneeded cost to the board since the processors that require the highest amounts of current that the board can provide usually do not appear in the market until the board is almost at the end of its useful life. This invention describes a method to plug additional circuitry into the motherboard so that if can provide a higher amount of DC power when the processors really need it. Without the additional circuitry plugged in the board can still provide a nominal amount of DC power to cover most of the processor requirements during the board's life. This will yield a lower total program cost. Over time we expect that regulator designs will move to controllers that can control in the range of 9 to 12 phases. This will require controllers that run at much faster frequencies. These regulators will have even more components duplicated. By plugging 6 or 9 out of a total of 12 phases and putting some sort of feedback on the pluggable module to communicate specific number of phases plugged the controller can run at the correct frequency for the number of phases plugged. This will insure optimal performance. Below is a drawing showing a typical 3 phase vrm circuit for a PC microprocessor. Each phase has a pre-driver, 2 FETS, an Inductor and various caps and resistors not shown. A single controller chip drives all 3 phases. This design is 3 phase in order to supply all the necessary current for the highest power processor that will be installed on the board. If the design was 2 phase then it would operate at lower currents. In the drawing below the bottom phase is shown as pluggable. When the bottom phase is not plugged the regulator will supply less current for "slower" microprocessors. With the third phase plugged in the regulator can supply full current for microprocessors of all speeds. This will allow the systems shipped with slower speed micros to be cheaper than a system with all 3 phases populated at all times. Vcore +12V