VARIABLE-VOLTAGE CPU VOLTAGE
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/319,817 filed Oct. 07, 1994, now abandoned.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is in the area of general-purpose computers such as desktop computers and portable computers, and pertains in particular to supplying regulated electrical power to central processing units (CPUs) and other computer elements.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In the development of power supplies and power management for computer systems, as in most technologies, new concepts and products bring with them new problems, and sometimes older problems are exacerbated. Supplying power to CPUs on computer motherboards is a case in point.
As CPUs have gotten faster and more powerful, they have also increased in load requirements and in total power consumed. Moreover, efforts have been made to reduce the voltage required for microprocessors used in and for CPUs. At lower voltage, such as 3.3 volts now required by some commercially available microprocessors, instead of the traditional 5 volts, voltage regulation becomes more important.
Voltage regulation is more important with newer microprocessors also because of the higher power, hence higher current, and the speed with which events transpire in modern computers. A high-power microprocessor suddenly activated, with immediate processing activity as well, generates a relatively high rate of change of current with respect to time, which can (and does) seriously effect the voltage supplied, unless adequate steps are taken to avoid or manage the transient circumstances.
In current art, there are three fundamental implementations of variable-voltage CPU voltage regulators:
1. Regulator is power supply. This implementation in not accurate, its cross-regulation is not good, and on line losses are too high.
2. Line regulator on motherboard. This method is costeffective, but efficiency is low and reaction speed is poor.
3. Switching regulator on motherboard. Efficiency improves, but the cost is high and reaction speed remains poor.
FIG. 1 shows a voltage regulator and dual-voltage CPU in current technology. A power source (the power supply unit) supplies 12-volt and 5-volt output. A 5-volt CPU uses power directly from the PSU. A 3.3-volt CPU requires conversion through the voltage regulator. In all current art, the best accuracy without manual adjustment is 3% tolerance increases the cost unacceptably and needs continual manual adjustment-not acceptable requirements in a personal computer. FIG. 3 shows details of a switching voltage regulator chip with a resistor or potentiometer, as used in current art.
What is clearly needed is improved methods and apparatus for regulating voltage to CPUs to improve regulation, control line losses, improve reaction time (speed), and to improve efficiency.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a switching voltage regulator has an electrically eraseable
programmable read-only memory unit (EEPROM or E2) for storing a coefficient for feedback loop voltage regulation. The coefficient is adjusted by clocking a serial data stream into a register until a desired value for the feedback coef
5 ficient is reached, then storing the value in the EEPROM by means of an input line.
In another embodiment, the adjustment potentiometer used in prior art devices is replaced by an external E2 and a resistor ladder to adjust output voltage.
10 In various embodiments, regulator apparatus according to the invention is implemented on a motherboard, in a multichip CPU package, and integrated in a single chip CPU. There are also several embodiments to deal with current surges, reducing or eliminating capacitors conventionally
15 required. In yet another embodiment, the voltage regulator receives a pre-warning based on a wakeup mechanism according to the invention.
The invention provides vastly improved efficiency and
2Q regulation, reaction time, reduced line losses, and reduced probability of failure under rapidly changing circumstances, than may be found in current art.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
25 FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a CPU voltage regulator in current art.
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a CPU voltage regulator according to an embodiment of the present invention. 3Q FIG. 3 is a schematic of a switching voltage regulator chip with a resistor or potentiomenter as used in current art.
FIG. 4 is a partly schematic diagram of a CPU voltage regulator replacing the current art potentiometer of the regulator of FIG. 3 with an external EEPROM and a resistor 35 ladder.
FIG. 5 is a block diagram of an enhanced embodiment of the present invention showing a prewarning system based on a wakeup mechanism.
FIG. 6 shows an embodiment using a synchronous digital 40 buck converter.
FIG. 7 shows an embodiment incorporating a series of dummy capacitors, controlled by a EEPROM for slowing the rise time of the switching regulator and inductor to match the CPU rise time.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
FIG. 2 shows a switching voltage regulator 11 with an
50 erasable EPROM (E2) 13 that holds the coefficient for feedback loop voltage regulation. To adjust the output value of a regulator, a serial data stream 17 can be clocked into register 15 until the desired value is obtained. The stored value can be read permanently and is easily changed again,
55 if required, without manual adjustment.
In FIG. 4, the potentiometer of FIG. 3 is replaced by an external E219 and an R-Ladder 21 to adjust the output voltage. Data and clock values are input to register 23 upon system initialization. The circuit can be tuned for optimal
go voltage for the CPU, and then the E2) is programmed.
This circuit may be implemented on a motherboard, in a multi-chip CPU package, or integrated in a single-chip CPU. It has several different enhancements to reduce or eliminate the capacitors required to deal with the current surge that
65 occurs when the CPU goes from idle (typically in the milliampere range) to active (typically in a range of multiple amperes) in approximately 100 ns.