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Power Management Designline

Implementation of the primary-side regulation in flyback converters (Part 1 of 2)
By Sean Chen, Eric Lan, and Lawrence Lin, Fairchild Semiconductor Corp., 05.23.11 1
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The consumer electronics market, and the LED drive market in particular, have been developing rapidly in recent
years. These markets are demanding devices with lower power consumption in shrinking form factors. Today, many of
those applications use flyback topology and secondary feedback control to adjust output regulation.

This method can’t reduce the number of components inside a device or reduce its size. Plus, it’s difficult to reduce
costs. Addressing these challenges, this article will provide a new control method that can achieve power consumption
savings, higher efficiency and low cost power supply: Primary Side Regulation (PSR)


Most power supplies currently deployed in consumer electronics and LED drivers are based on the flyback converter
architecture, which implements the traditional secondary feedback using phototransistors and error amplifiers in the
secondary side circuit to achieve constant voltage and constant current (Figure 1). In this architecture, the main task
of the secondary side circuit is to transfer the secondary side pulse signal to the primary side for the feedback loop to
modulate the pulse duty-cycle. This stabilizes the output current and voltage applied on the load when the output load
has undergone some change.

Figure 1: Flyback converter implementing traditional secondary-feedback control

Thus, this control method has penalties in terms of the number of components in the secondary side circuit, the
increased PCB space occupation, and higher cost, as well as the power loss and increased standby power
consumption caused by the required feedback signal test in the circuit. This article outlines the advantages of the
Primary Side Regulation (PSR) circuit. The circuit regulates the output current and voltage applied on the load through
the control within the primary side, relieving the burden on the secondary side feedback, Figure 2.

Specifically, the PSR circuit directly uses the voltage signal that it receives from an auxiliary winding on the
transformer primary side to modulate the pulse duty-cycle, so as to stabilize the output current and voltage applied on
the load.
Figure 2: Flyback converter implementing PSR control


Traditional PSR controls the feedback signal by detecting the voltage (V DDZ) of an auxiliary power supply (Figure 3). In
this implementation, the constant voltage is achieved by comparing the detected feedback voltage (V DDZ) with the
operating voltage (VDD) on the controller that is proportional to the output voltage. As for the constant current, since it
is in a non-continuous current mode flyback converter, the output power is proportional to the square of the primary
side peak current.

It can be achieved by adding a compensation signal in the controller (Figure 4) and using the controller input voltage
to regulate the compensation signal. However, the performance of this control method depends heavily on the quality
of the coupling between the auxiliary winding and the secondary winding as well as the circuit design.

Figure 3: VDD feedback control circuit

Figure 4: Relation between VDD signal and compensation signal

As shown in Figure 2, the PSR control circuit outlined in this article uses the voltage signal that it receives from the
auxiliary winding on the transformer primary side to regulate the control pulse as shown in Figure 5):

Figure 5: Time sequence of primary-side signal waves

1. Once [ton] the MOSFET in the PSR controller is turned on, an input voltage [VIN] is established on the transformer
and the primary side current [iP] rises from 0 to ipk. Since the energy from the input side is stored in the transformer
during the MOSFET on-time, the peak current (ipk) can be calculated through following equation, where LP is the
inductance of the primary winding; ton is the MOSFET on-time (Equation 1):
During the MOSFET cut-off time [toff], the stored energy turns on the diode on the secondary side and is conducted to
the load. And during this time, the output voltage and the forward break-over voltage of the diode will induce a voltage
on the auxiliary winding [VAUX] that can be calculated through the following equation, where, NAUX /NS is the
auxiliary/secondary winding ratio; VO is output voltage; VF is the forward break-over voltage of the secondary side
output diode (Equation 2):

2. Within the induction process, a sampling circuit in the PSR controller will detect a sample voltage from the
auxiliary winding the VAUX, which, by Equation 2, provides information about the output voltage. The controller then
compares this information with an internal reference voltage [VREF], and establishes a controlled MOSFET on-time
to stabilize the output voltage accordingly.

3. Due to the existence of the L-C circuit formed by the transformer inductance and the MOSFET output
capacitor COSS, when the current in the output diode decreases to 0, the voltage on the auxiliary winding will oscillate,
until the MOSFET turns on again. The discharge time constant [tdis] can be calculated from the sampling circuit, and
as shown in Figure 3, the average current of the output diode is equal to the output current (IO), which can be
calculated through the following equation, where, tS is the switching period of the PSR controller; NP/NS is the
primary/secondary winding ratio; and RSENSE is the resistance of the sensor for secondary side current sampling
(Equation 3): .

Figure 6 shows a simple circuit implementing PSR control. In this circuit, the voltage on the auxiliary winding is
detected through the Vs pin. This voltage is very close to output voltage when the secondary side diode is about to be
cut off.

By comparing this voltage with an internal reference voltage in the controller, and by using the discharge time constant
of the secondary side that the controller displays, voltage regulation can be achieved. The current regulation can be
achieved by comparing the voltage on the detect resistor (RCS) with an internal reference voltage in the controller and
using the discharge time constant of the secondary side that the controller displays.

However, this control method is not accurate. To enhance accuracy, we need to add a resistor and a capacitor in the
VCOMV/ VCOMI detect loop.
Figure 6: A simple circuit implementing PSR control

(End of Part 1. Part 2 will look at circuit design, and actual results)

Implementation of the primary-side regulation in flyback converters (Part 2 of 2)

By Sean Chen, Eric Lan, and Lawrence Lin, Fairchild Semiconductor Corp., 05.30.11 1
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(Part 1 looked at the Fundamentals of the topology and configuration; to read it, click here.)

Circuit design

We now present a real PSR implementation in a 5W battery charger (see Figure 9). Listed in Table 1 are the main
parameters of this charger. The PSR controller uses an internal 600V high voltage MOSFET that delivers reduced
interference between the MOSFET circuit and the PCB routing. To reduce standby power consumption, satisfying the
energy-saving regulations for power supplies, the PSR controller is designed with energy-save mode, which can
linearly decrease the PWM frequency as the charger moves into light load condition.

The PSR controller also implements frequency-hopping technology (spread spectrum) to enhance EMI performance
and internal compensation to address output voltage drop, which can be caused by a long output cable, further
enhancing the output voltage regulation capabilities.
Table 1: Circuit Parameters

Figure 7 and Figure 8 show the results from this experiment. The output voltage-current curve in Figure 7 shows that
under commercial AC power supply, the output voltage regulation accuracy can reach up to 2.88%, and when the fold-
back voltage is 1.5V, the output current regulation accuracy can reach up to 1.75%. Additionally, this level of current
regulation accuracy can be held by controlling the VDD within 5V~28V and the constant current can still be achieved
even when the output voltage gets lower.

As shown in Figure 8, the average efficiency can reach up to 72.3% @115V and 71.5& @230V, surpassing the
standard average efficiency (68.17%) required by Energy Star 2.0, Efficiency level V. With frequency-hopping added
into PWM switching, EMI performance is further enhanced by distributing energy in multiple modulated frequencies
instead of a single frequency.

Figure 7: The output voltage/current curves of a 5W charger implementing PSR

Figure 8: The power efficiencies of a 5W charger implementing PSR under different load conditions
Figure 9: A real circuit implementing the 5W charger

LED drivers generally use a secondary-side circuit to control the output current for applications such as LED lighting
power. In general, LED forward voltage (VF) increases with higher temperature. Therefore, attention must be paid to
the setting of fold-back voltage in circuit design.

If the voltage setting is too high, the driver will not be able to light the LED. The fold-back voltage should be designed
according to the forward voltage. In our solution, a 600V high-voltage MOSFET is used in the PSR controller, which
helps to reduce the size of the driver.

Figure 10 shows the performance of a LED driver circuit implementing PSR. Table 2 lists the main specification
parameters of the driver circuit. Table 3 lists the efficiencies of the driver circuit working at different input voltages.
Figure 11 and Figure 12 are photos of the driver. Figure 13 shows the circuit implementing the LED driver.

Table 2: Circuit Parameters

Figure 10: The output voltage/current curves of a 4.2W LED driver implementing PSR

Table 3: The driver efficiencies at different input voltages

Figure 11: A real driver photo (front view)

Figure 12: A real driver photo (side view)

Figure 13: An actual circuit implementing a 12V/0.35A LED driver


With Green energy becoming the world’s focus, great attention is being paid to power-supply efficiency. Power-supply
control ICs are playing an important role in enhancing efficiency. These IC power-supply products reduce total cost,
switching loss, size, and enhance EMI performance. This article presented a battery charger and a LED driver that
implement PSR technology, which achieve constant voltage and current by using the sample voltage signal that is
picked up from the auxiliary winding on the transformer.

This technology eliminates the need to use a secondary-side feedback circuit, a phototransistor, and current-detecting
resistors, all of which are used in traditional solutions. Thus, deploying PSR controller ICs in battery chargers and LED
drivers is an optimal solution that enhances power efficiency and reduces overall product cost.

About the authors

Sean Chen is a technical marketing engineer in the Asia Pacific region for Fairchild Semiconductor. He
received his M.S. degree from Chung Yuan Christian University. Prior to his current position, Chen was a field
application engineer for Fairchild in Taiwan. His research interests include AC/DC converters and the AC-DC
converter market.

Eric Lan is the Vice President, Technical Marketing and Applications, Asia Pacific for Fairchild Semiconductor.
He holds an M.S. Degree in Electrical Engineering, from the National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. He has a
broad base of experience in power supplies, power-management ICs, power devices, magnetics, and EMI/EMC

Lawrence Lin is a field application engineer for Fairchild in Taiwan. He graduated from the National Taiwan
University of Science and Technology. His research interests are in high-efficiency and low standby-power
consumption technologies of AC/DC power supplies.