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Understand two-switch
forward/flyback converters
By Youhao Xi and
Robert Bell
National Semiconductor

The forward and flyback convert-
ers are two popular topologies
widely used in isolated DC-DC
power converters. These topolo-
gies are favoured by designers for
their simplicity, ability to handle
multiple isolated outputs, and
ease to optimise the duty cycle
by selecting the transformer turns
Simplicity is partially based on
the fact that conventional forward
and flyback converters employ
a single MOSFET switch, which Figure 1: Two-switch forward converter topology
is primary ground referenced for
convenient gate drive implemen- forward converter topology,
tation. However, the drawback to which consists of the input ca-
this single switch approach is that pacitor CIN, two MOSFET switches
the voltage stress on the switch is Q1 and Q1, the power transformer
the sum of the input voltage, the T1, two clamp diodes D3 and D4,
reflected transformer voltage and two rectifier diodes D1 and D2,
the turnoff voltage spike caused and the output filter consisting of
by leakage inductance.’ LO and Co.
Adding a second MOSFET Figures 2a and 2b depict the
switch on the high side results in operation of the two-switch for-
the two-switch forward or fyback ward converter. Both Q1 and Q2
topology, of which the voltage are turned on and off simultane-
stress on each MOSFET is clamped ously. When they are on (Figure
to the input voltage. The leakage 2a), power is delivered to the load
inductance energy is also clamped through the transformer and the
and recycled back to the input to output filter.
improve efficiency. When the MOSFETs are turned
The dissipative snubber circuit off (Figure 2b), power flow in the
that is often required in the single primary circuit is cut off, and the
switch approach is no longer re- voltage on the primary winding
quired. MOSFET switches with a will reverse until the dot end is
rated voltage slightly higher than clamped to return by D3 and the
the input voltage can be em- non-dot end is clamped to VIN by
ployed in the two-switch topol- D4. Therefore, each MOSFET will
ogy, while a rating of greater than see a turnoff voltage stress mag-
twice the input voltage is required nitude of VIN.
for the single-switch topology. Not only is the energy from the Figure 2: Operating Modes of the two-switch forward converter
For many applications the transformer magnetizing induc-
added complexity and part count tance clamped but more impor- dissipated in a resistive snubber or inductive energy is now clamped.
of two-switch forward and flyback tantly the leakage inductance en- the MOSFETs themselves. Consequently, there is no need for
converters can be a small price to ergy is also clamped and returned This advantage over a single snubber circuit and the EMI sig-
pay for the benefits received. to the input power bus through switch approach reduces system nature of the converter is greatly
diodes D3 and D4. Energy stored power losses and reduces system reduced.
Two-switch forward converter in the leakage inductance during noise, since the ringing normally Transformer core reset in a
Figure 1 shows the two-switch the on-time does not have to be associated with the release of the single switch forward converter | EE Times-India

resistance of the two MOSFETs Higher input voltage applica. monolithic IC regulators eliminate integrated in the same IC. By limiting the duty cycle of the MOSFET switch to less than 50 per cent the transformer core will always reset each cycle. and even the two two-switch approach requires topology especially at higher in. input voltage range of the power capability. for a given die size. Block diagram of high side gate drive circuit Since the maximum drain to source voltage across the MOSFETs is clamped to VIN. the headache of the high side By clamping voltage stress usually can be smaller than a sin. use of a boot-strap capacitor tech. the lower Rds(ON) and the elimi. tions often have more primary MOSFET gate drive through the on the MOSFETs. there is no un- certainty as to what the peak volt- age stress will be. well. This benefit can not be overstated. Leakage inductance is difficult to control and can often vary even after the design goes into production. For a single-switch forward converter with a 36V to 75V input higher with two switches. Generally the reset winding has the same number of turns as the primary winding. because the conduction of D3 and D4 ef- fectively applies the input voltage in reversed polarity to the power transformer primary winding to reset the core. drive for both high side and low and the voltage rating. forward become more remarkable The die size. However. voltage. age inductance and loss. a study of MOSFET process char- acteristics reveals that the two- switch topology can actually re- sults in a reduction of conduction Figure 4: Two-switch flyback converter topology normally accomplished with a tertiary reset winding. The two-switch forward converter resets the transformer in exactly the same way without the ad- ditional reset winding. Figure 3. Thus. the series conduction loss of the high side MOSFET appears to be additional power dissipation. but lower input voltage gate drive implementation. the total put voltages. and hence the sion efficiency. requires a floating gate driver. At first glance. Peak voltage stress in a single switch approach is proportional to the value of leakage inductance. the core will always reset with a reset time equal to the on-time of the transistor. can all be two MOSFETs in series. making  eetindia. switching speed and circuit layout. but with increase with increasing input the block diagram of the high side application. nique controlled by a high speed converter can approach the rated Gate drive losses are obviously efits of the two-switch approach level shift circuit. a 200V MOSFET is of. The elimination of Historically. While the are big benefits of the two-switch ogy since the high side MOSFET side switches. are proportional snubber components and control side MOSFET has been a | EE Times-India . often results in a gain of conver. driving the high in an integrated solution where cost of a MOSFET. the maximum gle switch with twice the voltage turns which tend to increase leak. gate to both the on-resistance (RdsON) of the leakage inductance effects lenge for the two-switch topol. the complete control circuit. Figure 3 shows voltage of the MOSFETs. The ben. ten required provided the leakage nation of leakage inductance loss applications can often benefit as The advantages of two-switch inductance spike is controlled. The volt- age stress on the MOSFET switch will be twice the input voltage plus the spike caused by the leak- age energy. New high voltage MOSFETs.

can be integrated in the same Flyback converter topology. The clamp diodes Conclusion integrated solution allows the Q1 and Q2. be a small price to pay for the performance low cost DC-DC the secondary when the primary The same techniques as shown benefits received. and Two-switch flyback converter leakage inductance can de.25V to 75V. In contrast. high performance the output filter capacitor CO. used to recover the leakage switch. this either discontinuous or continu. solution. the power transformer in the Two-Switch Flyback are By adding a high side MOSFET input voltage range to approach T1. Energy is supplied to is returned to the input instead The added complexity and integrated Two-Switch DC-DC reg. The operation of the voltage stresses on the MOSFET no need for dissipative snubber to less than half the rated voltage Flyback transformer is best de.  eetindia. the maximum turned on and off simultaneously. as in the two-switch forward as in the two-switch forward. 3 can be used for the high tages of two-switch approach very wide input voltage range The coupling between side MOSFET gate drive. that are normally required in the ward and flyback converters can LM5015. gate drive for both switches. The to improve efficiency and there is switch forward converter is limited converter. scribed as two-winding coupled the leakage inductance energy single switch converters. two clamp diodes D1 and D2. and to flyback topology clamps the volt. energy back to the input. which single switch approach if left IC with the control circuit.full use of the MOSFET process ca. then the energy is released to single switch approach. switches are clamped to VIN. The consists of two MOSFET switches unchecked. become more remarkable in an from 4. to the input voltage. A typical example of the fully inductor. The advan- regulator solution capable of a MOSFETs turn off. across each MOSFET at | EE Times-India . the inductor in the primary circuit of being dissipated in snubbers part count of the two-switch for- ulator is National Semiconductor’s when the primary MOSFETs are ac. cess capability providing a small the input filter capacitor CIN and clamp the turn-off peak voltage age stress on each MOSFET switch form factor. The Two. Both MOSFET switches are All of the same benefits are switch approach. in Fig. the primary and secondary Switch Flyback can be operated in integrated solution in which the windings is never perfect. realised in the two-switch flyback ergy is recycled back to the input input voltage range for a single. and circuit that is often required in the of the MOSFET. the leakage en- pability. ous conduction mode just like the even the two MOSFET switches Figure 4 shows a Two-Switch stroy the primary MOSFET in a Single-Switch Flyback converter. the two-switch forward or the rating of the MOSFET pro- the secondary rectifier diode DO. With the two. which provides a high tive.