Relentless improvement continues in small switching buck regulators.
Allied Component Works recently worked on a customer application requiring a typical 5V to 3.3V step down regulator. The application might have supported a modular solution except for certain required power sequencing features. With that we had an opportunity to work with a newer series of switching regulators (TLV62130) from Texas Instruments. Sometimes the mundane, every day design element still makes us gasp a little bit with amazement; and this is one of those times.
This simple regulator has everything – wide input voltage range, high switching frequency, high output current, high efficiency, low noise, miniscule but manageable package size, and few external components. The package size and the size of the finished implementation may be the most amazing. Imagine the power density required to switch 4A of inductor current from a 15V rail in a 3mm package. Getting the heat out may be the biggest challenge for this part. Of course in many applications the part is operated well below its capacity. In applications like ours, where we also chose an inductor physically larger than necessary to help minimize losses at full current capacity, the small footprint and a well designed pinout aided in supporting heat flow to the plane and to the larger surface area of the inductor. Just take care to properly manage the solder mask when flooding copper over pads of the part. It looks like this part might be a frequent choice among small buck regulators for a while.