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Benefits of a Digital PSU featuring be quiet!

16 December 2020

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What makes power supply units with digital regulation higher grade than those with analogue control?

 

When selecting parts for a new computer, the power supply is one component that is often given little attention. However, the quality of the power supply unit has far-reaching consequences for the stability, reliability, safety and noise of the whole system. In Australia, the power-point feeds the power supply with alternating current (AC) at 230-240V, and the current is converted to direct current (DC) at the lower voltages required by the components of the computer. Next it is smoothed and distributed to the graphics card, mainboard, processor, storage components, fans and lighting elements. High-quality power supplies output the converted 3.3, 5 and 12-volt DC with low fluctuation and ripple. For the sake of completeness, the 5-volt standby and 12-volt rails should also be mentioned, but they usually have no high-performance requirements or are separated from the main transformation process. Higher efficiency ensures operation that is more efficient with less waste heat. Good, modern power supplies must also be able to adjust quickly to the extreme current spikes that are common with contemporary graphics cards. Reliable cooling makes sure the components age more slowly and give rise to as little background noise as possible.

 

Traditionally, analogue circuits monitor and regulate the functions of a PC power supply, but a digital control concept offers useful advantages. The term “digital power supply” has been around for a while, albeit with varied meanings and interpretations, which sometimes leads to misunderstandings. One possible interpretation describes certain power supply units have technical additions such as a built-in screen, an interface to read out electrical values, or manual adjustment of the fan curve with supplied software. Such power supply units are often advertised using the keyword “digital” because these functions are only possible thanks to a microcontroller and discrete signal transmission. However, the implementation of a digital interface for reading out power values is also possible with analogue circuits in charge of regulating the basic power supply functions. The existence of a digital interface for data transmission does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the actual performance quality of the devices. Analogue regulation is performed at a lower level compared to digital control.

 

What we would like to explore in the next paragraphs is sometimes referred to as “digital power” or “intelligent digital power”, which describe power supplies with digital monitoring and control of their basic functions. This concept leads to more precise regulation of the power supply, improving signal quality and efficiency.

 

This distinction is important, because the implementation of digitally regulated power supplies can span different magnitudes. What are called semi-digital power supply units just feature a digitally controlled power factor correction filter (PFC). Only when the LLC circuit, synchronous rectifier (SR), voltage regulation and protective circuits are digitally controlled can one speak of a digital or fully digital power supply.

 

Analogue power supplies use an analogue circuit to monitor and regulate the output voltages on the DC side and the PFC. In a digital power supply, this job is carried out by one or more microcontrollers. These control elements monitor the PFC, the fan controller, the regulation of the LLC-SR-12V circuits and tripping points of the protective circuits, and can adjust parameters flexibly to the prevailing requirements. A digital controller can react faster and measures more precisely than its analogue counterpart, allowing for more stable voltage regulation and less ripple. The faster the MOSFETs of the LLC and SR circuits can adjust, the shorter any dead times are; resulting in higher efficiency and therefore facilitating concepts of power supplies with the highest possible “80 PLUS Titanium” rating. In addition, the microcontroller enables optimal behavior of the PFC over the entire load range of the power supply, improving the overall power factor and efficiency.

 

That is why be quiet! decided to design the latest edition of its Dark Power Pro 12 flagship series with digital regulation. The layout of Dark Power Pro 12 also allows integration of an innovative, patented, free-standing fan, that is supplied with air through a custom-shaped funnel made out of two separate parts. This special shape went through more than ten revisions before the result was worthy of a premium power supply and no longer caused noise-inducing turbulence. Dark Power Pro 12 is extremely powerful, quiet and durable, which embodies everything an enthusiast can expect.

 

Shop the be quiet! Dark Power Pro 12 series power supplies at Mwave today.

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