Updates Required: Why Newer is Better

Updates Required: Why Newer is Better

When was the last time you bought or rented a brand-new car? What stood out to you as being different from your old car? Maybe it was something as simple and luxurious as having a nice, big screen to display your navigation and music. Maybe it was a safety feature like blind spot warnings or automatic lane assist. Or maybe it was something you couldn’t even see, like new and improved airbags, shatterproof glass, or impact dispersion across the frame for better driver protection in a crash.

Whether your ride is two years old or 20, one thing is certain: New technological advancements have been made in the latest models, and some of them can save your life. Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) technology is no different. New advancements are always being made to improve levels of EMC performance. In this case, the latest is often the greatest! Why settle for anything less?

Always Design with the Newest Components

As I mentioned in my earlier post “Integration, Isolation, and the Secret to Good EMC Design,” designers can improve their chances of building a circuit that meets EMC requirements by choosing components and reference designs that have already been tested and proven in the EMC lab.

The earlier you can do this in the design cycle, the better. PCB components are more integrated at the cutting edge and selecting the best components up-front can save a lot of trouble compared to mitigating EMC issues later down the line.

That’s why, when I start a new circuit design, I always check for updates before diving in. Oftentimes my providers have introduced next-generation components with new and improved performance. I never recycle an old design without checking if I can improve it.

Case in Point: ADI’s isoPower Family

The latest products generally have a better chance of meeting current regulations and standards, allowing you to reduce complex and bulky EMC mitigation techniques. They also tend to perform better due to advances in technology and design.

The isoPower family from Analog Devices is a perfect example.

The original isoPower device, while groundbreaking for its time, had some EMC issues that required mitigation techniques—but that version of the product came out a decade and a half ago. ADI’s current isoPower products have eliminated those EMC issues so that designers can simply drop in the component and be done with it, no mitigation required.

EMC Mitigation: The Need for a Better Technique

Designing power for isolation can be one of the most challenging aspects of a design process. With industrial trends of smaller, integrated components, EMC issues can arise when transferring power across an isolation barrier, and these issues must be mitigated for the design to comply with EMC regulations. However, traditional mitigation techniques for chip-scale DC-to-DC isolation solutions can be bulky, complex, or expensive, negating space and cost efficiencies of an otherwise elegant design.

Circling back to our earlier example, when Analog Devices updated the isoPower family, we leveraged transformer coil symmetry to help minimize the transfer of currents across the isolation barrier, spread spectrum techniques to reduce noise levels at any one frequency, and ferrite beads to further suppress radiated emissions. This two-layer PCB satisfies EMC standards without requiring the designer to add any complex or expensive mitigation techniques later in the process.

Newer Isn’t Always Better… Except in EMC!

While isoPower is just one example, it is certainly representative of why you should make a best practice of checking for updates before starting any new design. You may find a better device that can improve your EMC, reduce design complexity, and minimize PCB size… all of which will make your life easier in the long run.

Speaking of “new,” I’ll be seeing you for the next post in the new year! I wish you a wonderful holiday season. Be well, be merry, and I’ll see you in 2023!

Further Reading and Viewing

If you’d like to understand more about generational improvements we’ve made to the isoPower family and why newer is better, I invite you to explore the resources below.