Complex translation made simple

This post was co-written by Dave Long and Jose Gonzalez

Connecting devices to one another has gone from a cool idea to a must-have. From activity trackers to smart homes, we see the need for more data to be exchanged among numerous types of devices and systems. In most, if not all, of these cases this data interaction needs to happen at a very high rate of speed and in some cases in multiple directions. So when you need to implement a controller or logic device to handle this communication you will usually run into the challenge of interfacing to different voltage levels. A common solution is to employ a voltage level translator. However, if you require multiple different voltages and directions, then the need for a multi-voltage, bi-directional translator arises. 

Let me introduce you to TI’s latest and greatest multi-voltage, bi-directional level translator LSF010x family. These 1/2/8 bit voltage level translators enable high-speed interfaces of >100MHz such as MDIO, SDIO, SMBUS and UART while translating multiple voltages, up or down, in multiple directions. This gives flexibility to work with any logic voltage level between 1V and 5V enabling a large number of devices that can be interfaced with little to no hassle.

When choosing a level translator like this, here are some design challenges you may run into:

Need to address multiple signals at multiple voltage levels

When interfacing with multiple signals at different voltage levels, this can create a complex system requirement where multiple translators need to be used for separate signals and voltages. The LSF010x family allows each bit to translate separately at multiple voltage levels, simplifying the complex system to a single device solution. Figure #3 shows an example of multi-voltage translation to multiple interfaces from 1.8V to two separate 3.3V and 5V systems.

Figure 1: Multiple interface translation

My data needs to flow in both directions, need for bi-directional support

When a controller needs to send and receive data to a bi-directional interface such as SMBUS. The LSF010x family will support bi-directional translation without the need for a direction control pin, allowing data to flow to and from any logic device. In figure 2 check out the LSF0102 translating a 1.8V MDIO interface signal to a 3.3V MDIO signal.

Figure 2: 1.8V to 3.3 MDIO translation

Need translation to occur at high speeds, very low delay

In applications that require high speed interfaces such as MDIO and SDIO, the LSF010X family can support frequencies greater than 100MHz and support less than 1.5ns propagation delay. As can be seen in Figure 3, the LSF010X family can translate a 3.3V signal down to 1.8V in a 160Mhz signal.

Figure 3: 3.3V to 1.8V high-speed translation

Very space constrained system

If your application or board is limited on space or has a constraint, using an integrated solution is paramount to reducing this space. This family is available in four different package types with sizes as small as 1.5mm x 1mm.

So, when the need arises for high speed, bi-directional, multi-voltage level translation the LSF010X family of devices can assist you in simplifying your design with a cost effective, small form factor solution.

 For more information:

Sample the LSF010X family

Check out the LSF010x datasheet

Buy the LSF010x evaluation module

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