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Aacl ten, Germany.

2004 35rk Annual IEEE Power Elecrronics Specialisls Conference
A Modified Cross-Correlation Method for System Identification
of Power Converters with Digital Control
Botao Miao, R.egan Zane, Dragan Maksimovic
Colorado Power Electronics Center
ECE Department
Univeristy 'of Colorado at Boulder, USA
Email: {botaomiao, regamzane, maksimov}@,
Abstract-For digitally controlled switching power
converters, on-line systemidentification can be used to assess
the systemdynamic responses and stability margins. This paper
presents a modified correlation method for system
identification of power converters with digital control. By
injecting a multi-period Pseudo RandomBinary Signal (PRBS)
to the control input ofa power converter, the systemfrequency
response can bederived by cross-correlation of the input signal
and the sensed output signal. Compared to the conventional
cross-correlation method, averaging the cross-correlation over
multiple periods of the injected PRBS can significantly improve
the identification results in the presence of PRBS-induced
artifacts, switching and quantization noises. An experimental
digitally controlled forward converter with an FPGA-based
controller is used to demonstrate accurate and effective
identification of the converter control-to-output response.
Digital control of high-frequency switching power
converters offers many potential advantages, including
robustness to noise and parameter variations, reduction of
external components, real-time programmability and simple
integration with advanced features such as adaptive
calibration and health monitoring (diagnostics). In particular,
in power management and distribution (PMAD) systems,
which commonly include multiple power sources, loads,
power buses and converter modules, uncertainties of system
parameters may compromise static and dynamic performance
ofthe modules, while interactions among modules may cause
system instabilities. Thus it is desirable to develop intelligent
power modules capable of individually performing on-line
local system identification, communicating the results to
central or distributed controls, and responding with
corrective actions. While complex PMAD systems with
stringent robustness and diagnostics requirements are typical
for aerospace applications, it is clear that successful practical
system identification and diagnostics could also have
significant impact in design, testing, and deployment of
switching power supplies in a wide range of applications.
In general, system identification is divided into parametric
and nonparametric methods [ I , 41. In parametric methods, a
system model is assumed, and the identification amounts to
an estimation of the model parameters. In nonparametric
methods, no assumption is made about the system model, and
the identification is used to directly compute the system
Gequency responses. Nonparametric methods include:
correlation analysis [ 1,4,5], transient-response analysis [4,6],
and frequency response, Fourier, or spectrum analysis
This paper focuses on nonparametric identification, with
the objective of accomplishing on-line assessment of system
dynamic responses and stability margins. For switching
power converters with digital control, the requirements for
practical system identification include the following:
(a) signal injection should not disturb normal system
operation in terms of static and dynamic voltage regulation;
(b) the identification should be immune to switching and
quantization noise;
(c) memory and processing requirements should be
relatively low.
With these requirements in mind, we concentrate on the
cross-correlation analysis method [I]. This method has been
applied to empirical, simulation-based small-signal modeling
of switching converters [SI. In this paper we present a
modified cross-correlation approach for system identification
together with experimental results from an FPGA-based
digital controller realization. Modified cross-correlation is
achieved by first injecting multi-period Pseudo Random
Binary Signals (PRBS), then averaging the cross-correlation
of the input and the output over several PRBS periods. Thi s
approach rejects noise sources and results in accurate system
The paper begins with a review of the basic correlation
method in Section 11, followed by a simulation example to
demonstrate performance of the conventional method using a
single period PRBS in Section 111. In Section IV a
modification is proposed to improve the performance of
identification by multi-period PRBS and a form ofaveraging.
Experimental results are then shown in Section V for a 90W
5OV to 15V forward converter with an undamped input filter.
An FPGA-based digital controller is used to demonstrate the
performance of the proposed identification method on the
experimental forward converter.
Here we review and study application of the cross
correlation method to digitally sampled and controlled
switching power converters. In steady state, for small-signal
disturbances, a power converter can be regarded as a linear
time-invariant discrete-time system, where the sampled
system can be described by
0-7803-8399-0/04/$20.00 02004 IEEE. 3728
2004 35th Annual IEEE Power Elecrronics Specialists Conference
y( n) =x h ( k ) u ( n - k ) +v(n) 3 ( 1 )
1 4
2 >: :
where f i n ) is the sampled output signal; u(k) is the input
digital control signal; h(k) is the discrete-time system impulse
response; and v(k) represents disturbances, including
switching noise, measurement error, quantization noise, etc.
The cross-correlation of the input control signal u(k) and
the output signal y(n) is:
where R,,,,(rn) is the auto-correlation of the input signal.
Now, if the input control signal u(k) is selected to be white
noise, then we benefit from the following characteristics:
In other words, the auto-correlation of the input R, , is an
ideal delta function and the cross correlation of the white
noise input with disturbances v(k) is ideally zero. Under the
conditions of (3), the cross-correlation of (2) can be reduced
Thus the cross correlation of the input and output sampled
signals give the discrete time system impulse response. The
control to output transfer function of the target power
converter in frequency domain can then be derived by
applying the Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) to R,,dm):
W u ) . (5)
R,(m) +
This theoretical result requires the ability to generate
white noise as an input perturbation to the system. A simple
compromise in a digitally controlled power converter is to
approximate white noise through use of PRBS perturbations.
The PRBS can be easily generated but is periodic and
deterministic. The data length for one period of an n-bit
maximum length PRBS is given by A4 =2" - 1 , and the
signal itself has only two possible values:+e .
Figure 1 shows a comparison of samples ofwhite noise (a)
and a 9-bit single period PRBS (c) in a digital system. Figures
I (b) and (d) show the corresponding auto-correlation
functions, respectively. We can see that the auto-correlation
of a single period PRBS is very close to a delta function, but
now with a non-ideal component (or noise) around it. Recall
from (2) that the cross-correlation between the input and
output can be seen as time convolution between the
autocorrelation of the input (ideally a delta function) and the
system impulse response. The additional noise floor in the
PRBS autocorrelation will create errors in our identification
Aochen. Germany. 2004
,-I I --
. d
=, - ,* ,b I _ I - -
( C ) ( d )
Fig.] White noise (a) and its aulo correlation (b);
single period PRES (c) and its auto correlation (d);
ThePRBS perturbation signal can be easily generated in a
digital system using a shift register, as shown in Fig. 2 for a
9-bit PRBS. An n-bit shift register can generate several
different sequences, among which the maximum length
sequence has the best properties for this application. The
maximum length PRBS can be generated by performing an
XOR operation between the i-th bit and a specificj-th bit. For
a 9-bit shift register, the XOR operation should be performed
between the 1" and the 5th bits, as shown in Fig. 2, resulting
in a maximum sequence of 5 11. The following section
illustrates application ofthe basic correlation method through
a simulation example.
#b i t 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
1 : +e
0 : -e
Fig.2 9-bit PRBS generated by a 9-bit shift register
Figure 3 shows a digitally controlled forward converter
with an undamped input filter. The converter parameters are:
V,=SOV, Y= I 5 V, C=330 WF, L = IO0 pH, and the load
current is 6 A. The turns-ratio of the transformer is 1 : 1 : 1, The
input filter is a simple L-C low-pass filter with L,= 1.9 mH,
C,= 66 pF. The switching frequency, the sampling frequency
and the PRBS frequency are all 100 kHz.
Note that the input filter is not properly damped.
Therefore, the converter control-to-output response exhibits
a fourth-order response with a pair of right-half plane zeros
2004 35rh Annual I EEE Power Elecrronics Specialists Conference
Fig.3 Forward converter with input filter and digital controller
block diagram
[3]. This example is chosen to represent a situation where a
fault in a power distribution system on the input side of the
converter may cause system instabilities. It is also an example
where both low-frequency and high-frequency dynamics of
the converter are of interest, and the system identification
problem is more challenging.
The converter model and the identification functions are
implemented in the MATLABISimulink envirorunent. A
single period maximum length IO-bit PRBS signal (data
length is 1023) is injected as a perturbation to the converter
digital duty cycle command. The steady-state duty cycle is
0.3. The magnitude of the PRBS signal should be small
enough in order not to disturb normal system operation. In
this simulation, the PRBS magnitude is e= 0.01. The
additional output voltage ripple caused by PRBS perturbation
is about k0.6 V, or about ?4% of the DC output voltage.
Figure 4 shows the simulation results: (a) the cross
correlation of the input and output signals, and (b) the
frequency responses obtained by DFT of the cross correlation
data in (a). The solid curves represent the magnitude and
phase responses o f the control to output transfer function
obtained for the converter ideal averaged model (excluding
losses) [3], while the dashed curves represent the responses
obtained by the basic cross correlation method. It can be
observed that the salient features of the converter responses
are well identified by the method. However, the high
frequency responses obtained by the identification method
are significantly corrupted by noise. In the next section, we
discuss selection of the identification parameters as well as
modifications to the basic method aimed at reducing the
effects of noise.
Recall from Fig. I(d) that the non-zero noise floor in the
auto-correlation of a single-period PRBS was expected to
Anclten, Germany, 2004
0 400 800 1200 1600 2000
-2 '
( a )
( h )
Fig.4 Simulation results of a forward converter with an undamped
input filter when input is one period IO-hit PRBS L =I, M =1023,
frequency of PRBS is 100 kHz. (a) cross-Correlation ofthe input and
output, and (h) frequency response fromcorrelation method (dashed)
and ideal averaged model (solid).
result in errors in the calculated system impulse response,
which can now be seen in Fig. 4. In this section we develop
options for improving the identification results through
processing multiple periods of the PRBS sequence.
Consider first the properties of an infinite period PRBS. A
maximum length PRBS repeated L times forms an L-period
PRBS. If L tends to infinity, it has following properties and
frequency spectrum [I ]:
=I - $, else
Equation (6) gives the mean value of an infinite period
PRBS, which tends to zero for large M. Interestingly, (7)
shows a key result: for an infinite period PRBS, the
autocorrelation is given by periodic delta functions with
2004 35rh Annual IEEE Power Elecrronics Speci al i sts Conference
Fig.5. Auto correlation (a) and frequency spectrum (b) of an
infinite period PRBS
magnitude e* at k equal to zero and multiples ofM, and equal
to / M for all the other k s, which is also shown in Fig. 5(a).
When M is large, e* / M + 0, resulting in a periodic sequence
of near ideal delta functions in the auto correlation. This is
also seen in the frequency domain, as shown in the frequency
spectrum of (8). Figure 5(b) shows a plot of (8), where it is
seen that the frequency content of an infinitely repeating
PRBS contains delta functions at kf dM for k = l,,..,M-l,
where& is the frequency of the PRBS. Thus the infinitely
repeating PRBS can be seen as equivalent to injecting signals
at M-l discrete frequencies kfdM, resulting in a clear
limitation to the frequency components that can be identified
in the power converter. In comparison, injection of white
noise results in a flat line in the frequency domain, or is
equivalent to signal injection at all frequencies for ideal
system identification. Thus, for large M, an infinitely
repeating PRBS injection would result in near ideal
In practice, due to limitations in memory and computation
capability, only finite length data can be used. However, we
still see significant improvements in performance through
use of finite but multi-period PRBS over single-period. This
is partially explained by improvement in the autocorrelation
function, as shown in Fig. 6, which compares a single period
IO-bit PRBS to a 4-period 8-bit PRBS. The total data length
is N =L.M. For single period IO-bit PRBS, N =M =1023.
For 4-period 8-bit PRBS, N =L.M =4x255 =1020. Thus
while the two have essentially the same data length, the
4-period signal has a significantly lower relative noise floor
when compared to the single period version. This
characteristic isfurther explored in Fig. 7, which shows the
relationship between noise variance and N, M, L. The
horizontal axis is the data length N and the vertical axis is the
noise variance on a log scale. When N is fixed, smaller M
(that is larger L) gives lower noise variance. Thus, if the
effective noise floor in the input auto-correlation were the
only consideration, it would be best to use the largest possible
L (multiple periods) for a given allowable data length.
Anchen. Germnny, 2004
( a ) ( b )
Fig.6. The auto correlation af a single period IO-bit
PRES (a) and a 4-period &bit PRBS (b)
However, there are additional constraints on the selection
of M in the context of identification of a digitally controlled
switching power converter. The primary consideration in
selecting M is based on achieving desired frequency
sampling and resolution, as shown in Fig. 5(b). In (loosely
defined) comparison to network or spectrum analyzer terms,
the start and stop frequencies of the effective frequency
sweep are given byfdM and fd2 (after DFT), respectively,
where& is the PRBS frequency. In addition, the equivalent
resolution bandwidth or spacing between frequency
samples isfdM. Thus,fo must be sufticiently high to capture
the desired high frequency content, while f dM must be
sufficiently small to capture low frequency content and
achieve the desired frequency resolution. Another way to
visualize the low frequency requirement is that the sampling
window of a single PRES period in the time domain (given
by Mi ) must be sufficiently longer than the system settling
Based on the above constraints, suitablef, and minimum M
can be selected based on desired frequency sampling,
followed by maximum L based on allowed total data length.
Also, note that L must be an integer value to maintain the
desired auto-correlation characteristics. The concept of
trading M for L is demonstrated in Fig. 8, where simulation
results for a 2-period, 9-bit sequence at 5OkHz PRBS can be
compared with the single period, IO-bit, IOOkHz PRBS of
Fig. 4. The forward converter switching frequency is IOOkHz
for both cases. An improved system identification is achieved
in Fig. 8 (2-period), while Fig.4 (I-period) has a higher
maximumfrequency (2x). Both approaches have essentially
the same total data length.
Up to this point, our discussion has focused on the quality
256612 I024 2048 40%
data hgh N=LM
Fig.7 The noise variance vs data length N
withM=(8,9, IO, 11,12)-bit
2004 35f h Annul IEEE Power Elecrronics Speciolisrs Conference
Fig.8Simulation resuk ofa l00kHz fonvard wnverter with an
undamped input filter when the input istwo period 9-bit PRBS
L =2, M =511, frequency of PRBS is 50 kHc. Frequency
response fromwrrelation method (dashed) and ideal averaged
model (solid). Compare to Fig.5for single-period (L=l ).
Performcross correlation to the input
and output disturbances
of the PRBS input signal. With the emphasis now on
injecting multiple PRBS periods, an additional consideration
is how to handle the multi-period data sampled at the
switching converter output. As suggested in [ I] , one
possibility is to average the sampled output voltages and
work only with one period of input and output data in the
cross-correlation for reduced computational complexity. This
approach achieves a l / L reduction of external noise sources,
v(k), from averaging but no additional reduction fromthe
non-ideal behavior of the input PRBS auto-correlation.
Alternatively, we propose to perform the cross-correlation
operation on the entire set of multi-period input and output
data, followed by an effective averaging of the result to
estimate the system impulse response. To estimate the effect
on external noise sources, consider again ( I ) through (4),
where for white noise input the cross-correlation operation
eliminates uncorrelated noise. Based on the above selection
criteria, we achieve a close approximation to white noise and
expect a significant improvement in noise reductiori through
cross-correlation as compared to straight output data
averaging. Additionally, depending on how we deal with the
output of the cross-correlation data, it is possible to achieve
further cancellation of non-ideal components in the PRBS
auto-correlation as described below.
From (2), we how the cross-correlation is equal to the
convolution of input sequence auto-correlation and system
impulse response. When the input signal is multi-period, the
cross-correlation result is a multi-period impulse response, as
shown in Fig. 9. The reduced amplitude side-bands are due to
the finite periods in the input sequence. There are two options
to deal with the multi-period correlation result. One is to take
the center impulse response directly, because its signal to
noise ratio isthe best among these impulse responses. The
other is to average these impulse responses over 2L. periods.
The second option achieves averaging of the correlation
results, but due to the reduced amplitude side-bands this
would not appear to benefit the result. However,
improvement is achieved through the second optiori due to a
key property of the PRBS, where the same position points in
Aochen. Germany. 2004
t R"y
-(M-1) 0 M-I k
Fig.9The cross correlation result when input isa multi-period
PRBS signal. Note reduced amplitude sidebands due to finite
periods in the input PRBS.
each segment of the auto-correlation have following relation
R ,,,, (m) +R,,,(M t m) =-Cler / M , (9)
where C is a constant. This shows that by summing each of
the resulting impulse responses (rather than taking just the
center response) and dividing by L, the noise in the input
sequence auto-correlation sums to a small constant noise
floor similar to the infinitely repeating case of(7).
Based on the above discussions, our proposed procedure
for system identification is summarized in the signal flow
graph of Fig. I O. First, identification should be performed
when the system is operating in steady state. To start, an
L-period n-bit PRBS is generated and injected to the control
input. At the same time, output of the system is sampled and
stored. After the injection and output data collection are
finished, the cross-correlation is computed over the entire
data sequence. The 2L impulse responses output from the
cross-correlation operation are summed, then divided by L.
Finally, the DFT is applied to the averaged cross-correlation
result to visualize the system frequency response.
( System operating in steady state )
Inject multi-period PRBS
Collect output disturbance
(4) Average the crms correlation results
to derive the impulse reponse
(5) x System frequency response
Fig. 10 Signal flow graph of theproposed systemidentification
approach in digitally controlled switching power converten.
2004 35t h A n n u l l EEE Power Electronics Specialists Conference Aachen, German): 2004
The digitally controlled forward converter of Fig. 3 was
constructed and used to experimentally verify the proposed
system identification method. The converter parameters are
the same as in the simulation example of Section Ill: the input
voltage isV, =50 V and the output voltage is V =15 V. The
output filter inductor Li s 100 pH, and the output filter
capacitor is C=330pF. The converter operates at the
nominal load of 6 A. The switching frequency is
5 =100 kHz. The turns-ratio of the transformer is 1 :I : 1. The
input filter parameters are L, =1.9 mH and C, =66 pF.
The digital controller was implemented using a Xilinx
Virtex-11 FPGA. The FPGA-based controller includes a
IO-bit digital pulse-width modular, a PRBS generator and a
data collection unit. The converter output voltage, scaled by a
1O: l resistive voltage divider, is sampled by an A 0
converter (TI-THS1230). The sampling rate equals the
switching frequency. Although the FPGA also includes a
discrete-time compensator to implement closed-loop output
voltage regulation, in the experiments reported in this section
the converter is operated open loop. The PRBS and ND data
collected by the FPGA is transmitted to a PC for off-line
processing in the MATLABISimulink environment.
The modified cross correlation method described in
Section IV is used to identify the control to output transfer
function of the experimental forward converter. A 3-period
12-bit PRBS was generated by the FPGA and injected to the
digital duty cycle command. The total data length is
N =3.(2 - 1) =12285. The PRBS frequency A, equals the
switching frequency A, which means that the process of
collecting the data takes N/&= 123 ms. A single PRBS
sequence lasts M& =4 I ms, which is sufficiently long to
capture the complete impulse response of the converter. The
corresponding frequency resolution i s5l M =24 Hz, which
can be compared to the resolution bandwidth setting in a
standard analog measurement of converter transfer timctions
using a network analyzer.
Figure I 1 compares the magnitude and phase responses
obtained by the modified correlation method (dotted line) and
by the network analyzer measurement (solid line) under the
same operating conditions. I t can be observed that the
matching between the responses is quite good in a wide range
of frequencies. The results obtained by the identification
method show a relatively low level of noise even at high
A modified cross-correlation method for system
identification is presented for switching power converters
with digital control. Multiple periods of a Pseudo Random
Binary Signal (PRBS) are injected to a control input (such as
the duty cycle) of a power converter, and the output is
sampled over multiple PRBS periods. The computed
cross-correlation is averaged over multiple periods to get the
system impulse response, which is then used to compute the
system frequency response. Simulations and experimental
results show that the proposed method can give reliable
identification results in the presence of PRBS artifacts,
switching and quantization noise (in digital systems). The
.mL.> , \
10 1 Oa
Fig.1 I Experimental frequency response of 100kHz. 90W
forward converter based on the proposed system identification
method. Dashed result is based on measured data from the digital
identification system with a 3-period, 12-bit PRBS, data length N =
12285, and a PRBS frequency of 100kHz. The solid line is measured
by a network analyzer.
method is well suited for implementation in digitally
controlled switching power converters. As an example of
such anapplication, adigitally controlled 50-to-I5 V forward
converter operating at 100 kHz is constructed and the
identification method is demonstrated using an FPGA-based
digital controller. The experimental results show successhl
control-to-output response identification.
The proposed identification approach can be used for
off-line system analysis, digital controller design, and even
design validation in the presence of non-idealities such as
losses, delays and switching and quantization noise. In
addition, the concepts can be extended for use in on-line
applications, such as PMAD systems where static and
dynamic performance of individual power modules and
interactions between modules can he monitored and actively
compensated locally to achieve global system stability.
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