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Patent Issued for Analog-To-Digital Converter with Early Interrupt Capability

July 8, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Technology -- A patent by the inventor Kris, Bryan (Gilbert, AZ), filed on December 2, 2011, was published online on June 24, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8762614 is assigned to Microchip Technology Incorporated (Chandler, AZ).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Control system stability is very dependent upon and is affected by delays in the control loop due to analog-to-digital signal conversion and information transfer delay times. For example, in a pulse width modulation (PWM) controlled system the control loop stability is highly dependent upon the delays from the moment the analog data value is sampled until an updated PWM output can be applied to the controlled circuit. Typical techniques to reduce control loop delays are to use faster digital processors and faster analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) to reduce the time needed to acquire feed back information and then compute the next control output state. Faster digital processors and ADCs are more expensive and consume more power than the more common low power processors and ADCs. Excessive loop delays can introduce overshoot and instability in the control loop performance, and is not desirable in high performance electronic control devices and systems."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "Therefore, there is a need to reduce delay times in a control loop having digital components without substantially increasing the cost and power requirements of the active components used in the control loop application.

"According to an embodiment, an apparatus for analog-to-digital conversion with early interrupt capability may comprise: a digital processor and a memory coupled to the digital processor; an interrupt controller coupled to the digital processor, wherein the interrupt controller is adapted to handle interrupts to the digital processor based upon information from a selected analog channel; an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) having a plurality of pipelined stages for converting a sampled analog signal from the selected analog channel to a digital representation thereof; a plurality of pipelined registers arranged to transfer the information from the selected analog channel from one register to a next register at each clock pulse thereto, wherein transfer time through each of the plurality of pipelined registers is substantially the same as delay time through each of the plurality of pipelined stages of the ADC; and a circuit for selecting a one of the plurality of pipelined registers, wherein a conversion ready delay time of the information from the selected analog channel is equal to the delay time at the selected one of the plurality of pipelined registers, whereby the information from the selected analog channel is available to the interrupt controller after the conversion ready delay time.

"According to a further embodiment, the conversion ready delay time is less than or equal to an interrupt handling request time from the interrupt controller to the digital processor. According to a further embodiment, the information about the selected analog channel comprises a channel number and a sample ready. According to a further embodiment, a time the ADC takes to convert the sampled analog signal to the digital representation thereof is less than or equal to the interrupt handling request time. According to a further embodiment, the circuit for selecting the one of the plurality of pipelined registers may comprise: a first multiplexer having respective inputs coupled to a portion of each of the plurality of pipelined registers containing the channel number; a second multiplexer having respective inputs coupled to another portion of each of the plurality of pipelined registers containing the sample ready; and a binary to one line decoder, wherein the digital processor is coupled to the first and second multiplexers and selects which inputs thereof are coupled to outputs thereof, the outputs thereof are coupled to inputs of the binary to one line decoder, whereby the binary to one line decoder converts the channel address, when the sample ready is asserted, to a respective single ready line output coupled to the interrupt controller, thereby initiating a respective interrupt to the digital processor. According to a further embodiment, the circuit for selecting the one of the plurality of pipelined registers may comprise: a first multiplexer having respective inputs coupled to a portion of each of the plurality of pipelined registers containing the channel number; a second multiplexer having respective inputs coupled to another portion of each of the plurality of pipelined registers containing the sample ready; and a binary to one line decoder, wherein the digital processor is coupled to the first and second multiplexers and independently selects which input of the first multiplexer is coupled to an output thereof, and which input of the second multiplexer is coupled to an output thereof, the outputs of the first and second multiplexers are coupled to inputs of the binary to one line decoder, whereby the binary to one line decoder converts the channel address, when the sample ready is asserted, to a respective single ready line output coupled to the interrupt controller, thereby initiating a respective interrupt to the digital processor. According to a further embodiment, the digital processor is a microcontroller. According to a further embodiment, the digital processor is selected from the group consisting of a microprocessor, a digital signal processor (DSP), a programmable logic array (PLA) and an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC). According to a further embodiment, the digital processor, the interrupt controller, the ADC, the plurality of pipelined registers and the circuit for selecting ones of the plurality of pipelined registers are fabricated on an integrated circuit die.

"According to another embodiment, a method for providing an early interrupt during an analog-to-digital conversion may comprise the steps of: providing a digital processor and a memory coupled to the digital processor; providing an interrupt controller coupled to the digital processor, wherein the interrupt controller is adapted to handle interrupts to the digital processor based upon information about a selected analog channel; providing an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) having a plurality of pipelined stages for converting a sampled analog signal from the selected analog channel to a digital representation thereof; providing a plurality of pipelined registers arranged to transfer the information about the selected analog channel from one register to a next register at each clock pulse thereto, wherein transfer time through each of the plurality of pipelined registers is substantially the same as delay time through each of the plurality of pipelined stages of the ADC; and selecting a one of the plurality of pipelined registers, wherein a conversion ready delay time of the information about the selected analog channel is equal to the delay time through the selected one of the plurality of pipelined registers, whereby the information about the selected analog channel is available to the interrupt controller after the conversion ready delay time.

"According to yet another embodiment, a system having a digital closed loop control for regulating an output voltage may comprise: a digital processor and a memory coupled to the digital processor, the digital processor having a software program that calculates a loop control signal from a reference value and a feedback value; a pulse width modulation (PWM) generator having an input coupled to an output of the digital processor that supplies the loop control signal; a power switch having an input coupled to and controlled by the PWM generator; a filter network comprising an inductor and a capacitor, wherein the filter network is coupled to an output of the power switch and produces a direct current (DC) voltage based upon operation of the power switch controlled by the PWM generator; a sample and hold circuit having an analog input coupled to the DC voltage from the output of the filter network, wherein the sample and hold circuit takes a sample of the DC voltage and holds the DC voltage sample; an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) having a plurality of pipelined stages for converting the DC voltage sample to a digital representation thereof, wherein the digital representation of the DC voltage sample is used as the feedback value read by the digital processor; a plurality of pipelined registers arranged to transfer information from the sample and hold circuit from one register to a next register at each clock pulse thereto, wherein transfer time through each of the plurality of pipelined registers is substantially the same as delay time through each of the plurality of pipelined stages of the ADC; an interrupt controller coupled to the digital processor, the interrupt controller is adapted to handle interrupts to the digital processor based upon the information from the sample and hold circuit; and a circuit for selecting a one of the plurality of pipelined registers, wherein a conversion ready delay time of the information from the sample and hold circuit is equal to the delay time through the selected ones of the plurality of pipelined registers, whereby the information from the sample and hold circuit is available to the interrupt controller after the conversion ready delay time. According to a further embodiment, the sample and hold circuit may comprise a plurality of analog input channels, and the information from the sample and hold circuit may comprise a channel number of an active one of the plurality of analog input channels and an analog ready signal for the active one of the plurality of analog input channels."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Kris, Bryan. Analog-To-Digital Converter with Early Interrupt Capability. U.S. Patent Number 8762614, filed December 2, 2011, and published online on June 24, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8762614.PN.&OS=PN/8762614RS=PN/8762614

Keywords for this news article include: Microchip Technology Incorporated.

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Source: Journal of Technology


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