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Voltage regulator module

A voltage regulator module or VRM, sometimes called PPM (processor power module), is a buck converter that provides a microprocessor the appropriate supply voltage, converting +5 V or +12 V to a much lower voltage re uired by the !"#, allowing processors with di$$erent supply voltage to be mounted on the same motherboard% &ome are soldered to themotherboard while others are installed in an open slot% &ome processors, such as 'ntel(s )aswell, $eature voltage regulation components on the same package as the !"#, instead o$ the motherboard%
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,ost modern !"#s re uire less than 1%5 V%!"# designers tend to design to smaller !"# core voltages- lower

voltages help reduce !"# power dissipation, o$ten re$erred to as thermal design power (./")% &ome voltage regulators provide a $i0ed supply voltage to the processor, but most o$ them sense the re uired supply voltage $rom the processor, essentially acting as a continuously1variable ad2ustable regulator% 'n particular, V3,s that are soldered to the motherboard are supposed to do the sensing, according to the 'ntel speci$ication% ,odern graphics processing units (4"#) also use a V3, due to higher power and current re uirements%*2+

Voltage identification
.he correct supply voltage is communicated by the microprocessor to the V3, at startup via a number o$ bits called VID (voltage identi$ication)% 'n particular, the V3, initially provides a standard supply voltage to the V'/ logic, which is the part o$ the processor whose only aim is to then send the V'/ to the V3,% 5hen the V3, has received the V'/ identi$ying the re uired supply voltage, it starts acting as a voltage regulator, providing the re uired constant voltage supply to the processor% 'nstead o$ having a power supply unit generate some $i0ed voltage, the !"# uses a small set o$ digital signals, the V'/ lines, to instruct an on1board power converter o$ the desired voltage level% .he switch1mode buck converter then ad2usts its output accordingly% .he $le0ibility so obtained makes it possible to use the same power supply unit $or !"#s with somewhat di$$erent nominal supply voltages and to reduce power consumption during idle periods by lowering the supply voltage%*6+ 7or e0ample, a unit with 51bit V'/ would output one o$ at most 62 (2 5) distinct output voltages% .hese voltages are usually (but not always) evenly spaced within a given range% &ome o$ the code words may be reserved $or special $unctions such as shutting down the unit, hence a 51bit V'/ unit may have $ewer than 62 output voltage levels% )ow the numerical codes map to supply voltages is typically speci$ied in tables provided by component manu$acturers% As o$ 2889 V'/ comes in 51, :1 and 91bit varieties and is mostly applied to power modules outputting between 8%5 V and 6%5 V%

'! power1supply pin


Almost all integrated circuits ('!s) have at least two pins that connect to the power rails o$ the circuit in which they are installed% .hese are known as the power-supply pins% )owever, the labeling o$ the pins varies by '! $amily and manu$acturer%

Typical supply pin labeling

B T !"T

V!! V// V+ V&+ "ositive supply voltage

V>> V&&

V; V&; =egative supply voltage

A generic labelled '!

.he simplest labels are V+ and V, but internal design and historical traditions have led to a variety o$ other labels being used% V+ and V; may also re$er to the inverting (;) and non1inverting (+) voltage inputs o$ '!s like op amps% &ometimes one o$ the power1supply pins will be re$erred to as ground (abbreviated <4=/<)% 'n digital logic, this is nearly always the negative pin- in analog integrated circuits, it is most likely to be a pin intermediate in voltage between the most positive and most negative pins*citation needed+% 5hile double subscript notation, where subscripted letters denote the di$$erence between two points, uses similar looking placeholders with subscripts, the double letter supply voltage subscript notation is not directly linked (though it may have been an in$luencing

History
'n circuit diagrams and circuit analysis, there are long1standing conventions regarding the naming o$ voltages, currents and some components%*6+ 'n the analysis o$ a bipolar 2unction transistor, $or e0ample in a common

emitter con$iguration, the /! voltage at the collector, emitter, and base (with respect to ground) may be written as V#, V" and VB respectively% 3esistors associated with these transistor terminals may be designated RC, RE and RB% 'n order to create the /! voltages, the $urthest voltage, beyond these resistors or other components i$ present, was o$ten re$erred to as VCC, VEE and VBB% 'n practice VCC and VEE then re$er to the plus and minus supply lines respectively in common ="= circuits% =ote that VCC would be negative and VEE would be positive in e uivalent "=" circuits% >0actly analogous conventions were applied to $ield1e$$ect transistors with their drain, source and gate terminals%
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.his led to VD and VS being created by supply voltages designated VDD and VSS in the more common circuit

con$igurations% 'n e uivalence to the di$$erence between ="= and "=" bipolars, VDD is positive with regard to VSS in the case o$ n1channel 7>.s and ,?&7>.s and negative $or circuits based on p1channel 7>.s and ,?&7>.s% Although still in relatively common use, there is limited relevance o$ these device1speci$ic power supply designations in circuits that use a mi0ture o$ bipolar and 7>. elements, or in those that employ either both ="= and "=" transistors or both n1 and p1channel 7>.s% .his latter case is very common in modern chips, which are o$ten based on !,?&technology, where the C stands $or complementary meaning that complementary pairs o$ n1 and p1 channel devices are common throughout% .hese naming conventions were part o$ a bigger picture where, to continue with bipolar transistor e0amples although the 7>. remains entirely analogous, /! or bias currents into or out o$ each terminal may be written IC, IE and IB% Apart $rom /! or bias conditions, many transistor circuits also process a smaller audio1, video1 or radio1$re uency signal that is superimposed on the bias at the terminals% @ower case letters and subscripts are used to re$er to these signal levels at the terminals, either peak1to1peak or rms as re uired% &o we see vc, ve and vb as well as ic, ie and ib% #sing these conventions, in a common emitter ampli$ier, the ratio vc$vb represents the small1 signal voltage gain at the transistor and vc$ibthe small1signal trans-resistance $rom which the name transistor is derived by contraction% 'n this convention, vi and vo usually re$er to the e0ternal input and output voltages o$ the circuit or stage%*6+ &imilar conventions were applied to circuits involving vacuum tubes or thermionic valves as they were known outside o$ the #%&% .here$ore we see VP, VK and VG re$erring to plate (or anode outside o$ the #%&%), cathode (note K, not C) and grid voltages in analyses o$ vacuum triode, tetrode and pentode circuits%*6+

Modern use
!,?& '!s have generally borrowed the =,?& convention o$ V // $or positive and V&& $or negative even though both positive and negative supply rails connect to source terminals (the positive supply goes to ",?& sources, the negative supply to =,?& sources)% '!s using bipolar transistors have V !! (positive) and V>> (negative) power supply pins% 'n many single supply digital and analog circuits the negative power supply is also called <4=/<% 'n <split rail< supply systems there are multiple supply voltages% >0amples o$ such systems include modern cell phones, with 4=/ and voltages such as 1%2 V, 1%9 V, 2%A V, 6%6 V and "!s, with 4=/ and voltages such as ;5 V, 6%6 V, 5 V, 12 V% "ower1sensitive designs o$ten have multiple power rails at a given voltage, using them to conserve energy by switching o$$ supplies to components which are not in active use% ,ore advanced circuits will o$ten have pins carrying voltage levels $or more specialiBed $unctions and these are generally labeled with some abbreviation o$ their purpose% 7or e0ample V #&C $or the supply delivered to a #&C device (nominally 5 V), VCA. $or a battery, or Vre$ $or the re$erence voltage $or an analog1to1digital converter% &ystems combining both digital and analog circuits o$ten distinguish digital and analog grounds (4=/ and A4=/), helping isolate digital noise $rom sensitive analog circuits% )igh1security cryptographic devices and other secure systems sometimes re uire separate power supplies $or their unencrypted and encrypted (redDblack) subsystems to prevent leakage o$ sensitive plainte0t%