ICEpower Introduces Revolutionary Audio Technology Platform: ICEedge – Class D Like Never Before
January 21, 2016
ICEedge is a revolutionary Class D chipset which will be the technology platform in future Class D amplifiers from ICEpower. It is the most powerful Class D chipset in the market enabling amplifiers from 50-7000 watt for consumer and professional audio applications. Multiple protection and performance-enhancing features make it one of the most advanced Class D chipsets in the World.
In 2004, ICEpower introduced its ICCx Class D chipset. The chipset was a cutting-edge solution in terms of audio quality, reliability and functionality. ICCx has been implemented in millions of amplifiers designed and manufactured by both ICEpower and partnering audio manufacturers. Today, the chipset is still being integrated in thousands of ICEpower amplifiers and other audio applications bringing grand audio experiences to music enthusiasts all over the world.
Technologies evolve fast and so does ICEpower. Since the launch of ICCx, ICEpower’s knowledge and expertise within Class D amplification have grown substantially. The ICEpower heritage now consists of numerous full-featured amplifier series ranging from 25 to 1200 watt and several chipset solutions for both consumer, professional, automotive and mobile audio applications. Now, ICEpower has converted these 15 years of experience into a next generation Class D chipset, the successor of ICCx. ICEpower introduces ICEedge – Class D like never before.
When initiating the development of ICEedge, ICEpower decided to develop the best Class D chipset in the market and promised to make zero compromises in the process. ICEpower wanted ICEedge to be a revolution within audio quality, power range, flexibility, protection, diagnostics, integration level, ease of design and cost. By no means an easy target, as many of the design goals are inherently contradictory. This required that in every aspect the design choices, solutions and technologies had to be developed optimally with no short cuts. The result is ICEedge - the future audio technology platform for ICEpower amplifiers.
The ICEedge chipset consists of a dual channel Controller IC and two Driver IC’s. The chips have been separated to completely isolate independent channels in order to minimize noise and interference between channels. ICEedge is ICEpower’s finest achievement yet in terms of audio performance and functionality, and likely to be the world’s most advanced Class D chipset.
All relevant protection and diagnostic features are integrated into ICEedge for fast and easy amplifier development and component reduction. The ICEedge chipset contains new circuits carrying several patented inventions.
Power, Performance, Possibilities
ICEedge is a highly advanced audio technology platform featuring premium performance, specifications and a wide array of features. In fact, it is ICEpower’s most advanced design to date. Its many possibilities, specifications and features can be summarized under the three headlines: Power, Performance, Possibilities.
ICEpower enables higher power levels than ever before in an audio application designed with a Class D chipset as ICEedge enables 50-7000 watt power output. This opens up for practically limitless design freedom.
With ICEedge as a technology platform for ICEpower amplifiers, ICEpower can design amplifiers for the consumer market tailored for e.g. A/V receivers, Hi-Fi stereo amplifiers, active speakers, active subwoofers, etc. With ICEegde’s very high power output, ICEpower pushes the power limit to new heights, enabling development of high power amplifiers for PA speakers, musical instrument amplifiers and professional amplifiers.
ICEedge is designed with high performance audio circuits throughout the entire design and features a wide array of newly invented performance enhancing features, such as continuous dead time compensation and pop kill. This enables a market-leading audio performance that both sounds and measures incredibly.
Furthermore, ICEedge features a comprehensive protection scheme that continuously monitors the amplifier and activates a warning if the temperature is reaching the protection limit. ICEpower’s goal has been to keep the music playing at all times.
ICEpower has integrated as many functions into the chipset as possible to reduce the number of discrete components on the amplifier board. This leads to a simpler design and great reduction on component count compared to implementations using discrete components and gate drivers.
ICEedge is designed to be a future-proof platform for ICEpower amplifiers for many years to come. Going forward, ICEpower will integrate ICEedge in all standard amplifiers.
ICEedge Technical Highlights:
One chipset, three chips: With ICEedge, ICEpower wanted to obtain the highest possible audio quality. This meant that the usual industry practice of integrating everything on one die – a so called monolithic solution – was a no-go. A Class D amplifier includes several different sub functions, such as high precision analog comparators and op-amps, high voltage gate drivers and high current MOSFET’s - each with different requirements. Putting everything on one die is a major compromise as a semiconductor process simply cannot be optimized for so many contradictory requirements. Instead, ICEpower has used a highly specialized low-noise process for all the sensitive analogue parts in the signal chain, such as audio op-amps, comparators, etc. Utilizing this process, ICEpower has been able to achieve audio performance levels of the analog parts on a level similar to the best available discrete analog audio components.
State of the art analog design: In order to get the best of the ultra low noise, high precision process used in the controller, ICEpower has selected the best available foundry process for the sensitive analog signal path. By doing so, ICEpower has achieved to design audio op amps and comparators with a performance level in terms of linearity, noise, bandwidth, slew rate, etc. that is on par with the best available discrete analog audio components.
Dual mono design: In the audiophile community, it has long been regarded as best practice to completely separate independent channels in order to minimize interference and crosstalk between channels. In ICEedge, ICEpower has therefore done exactly this, with the two channels being completely separated and with the physical layout being fully identical, hereby the dual mono design.
Continuous Dead-time compensation: Due to careful design of the ICEedge Driver, the dead-time setting is very accurate leaving only minute variations in production and across applications. But since the dead-time for the total power stage also depends on the switching behavior and timing of the power MOSFETs introduced by e.g. complex speaker loads, dead-time related distortion still exists, especially in high power amplifiers. To compensate for this phenomenon, the ICEedge Driver provides an ICEpower proprietary Continuous Dead-time Compensation mechanism (CDC) that adds small continuous compensating adjustments to the gate driver output timing derived from the previously measured PWM switch timing. In other words, based on the actual timing of the power stage MOSFETs, the ICEedge Driver will maintain the optimal timing of the full power stage and thus provide optimum low distortion properties.
Protection: In ICEedge, ICEpower has designed one of the most advanced protection systems ever in a class D amplifier. The protection system has been designed from a “music at all times” paradigm. Essentially this means that it is designed to keep the music playing as long as possible, even under extreme conditions, before it eventually has to shut down to avoid damage if the current or temperature is not reduced. The protection scheme in ICEedge includes early warning before shutdown, accurate and fast MOSFET temperature measurement and temperature-compensated cycle-by-cycle current limit. All features are unique and invented by ICEpower to ICEedge.
Diagnostics: By monitoring the amplifier’s condition continuously, the risk of shutdown or damage is decreased dramatically as the system or user of the system has a chance to react before reaching critical levels. Therefore, ICEpower has integrated a simple interface allowing the possibility to read status and diagnostics information. On top, a simple I2C interface is included should diagnostics information through a communication protocol be wanted.
ICEpower is a leading Class D amplifier OEM manufacturer in Denmark founded in 1999. The amplifiers are designed for all types of consumer and professional audio applications, from Hi-Fi amplifiers, active subwoofers and speakers to musical instrument amplifiers, studio monitors and PA speakers. Numerous well-renowned audio companies all over the world use ICEpower solutions for their outstanding audio quality and high quality and reliability.