Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (4-30-12): Getting serious about low power, again - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (4-30-12): Getting serious about low power, again

Embedded Newsletter for 04-30-2012

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April 30, 2012

Tech Focus: Getting serious about low power, again


Optimal digital power control using LLC resonant converters

Design considerations for power sensitive embedded devices

Taking advantage of new low-power modes on advanced microcontrollers

Understanding MCU sleep modes and energy savings

Editor's Note

Bernard Cole Bernard Cole
Site Editor

In “2012 will be the year of power, again“, Brett Cline of Forte Design Systems notes that – among other factors – as transistor geometries move into the 10 to 40 nm range, the problem of providing more functionality and performance at low power on increasingly untethered mobile and wireless embedded devices gets more difficult. Recent articles by designers from the likes of Cadence, Synopsys, Apache Design, and Mentor Graphics tell me that EDA companies are positioning themselves to take on the challenge.

But if 2012 is the year of low power for EDA companies, we have seen a decade of low power challenges for embedded systems developers. As far back as a 2001 Embedded.com article on “Low power design ” by Mike Willey and Kris Staffford, developers have faced the challenges with an impressive range of imaginative techniques for power management.

Many of these ideas have been chronicled in design articles, white papers, and webinars on Embedded.com. Some of the most recent of these are included in this issue of the Tech Focus Newsletter. Of these, my Editor's Top Picks are:

Optimal digital power control using LLC resonant converters
Taking advantage of new low-power modes on advanced MCUs
Energy Efficient Computing
From power management ICs to high efficiency power SoCs

Design How-Tos

Optimal digital power control using LLC resonant converters

The authors describe a digital power control implementation using line level control (LLC) resonant converters based on a flexible, 32-bit, low-cost, high-performance microcontroller. Key elements of digital power control are explored; including duty cycle control, dead-band adjustment in real time, frequency control, and adaptive thresholds for maintaining different safe operation regions.

Design considerations for power sensitive embedded devices

Adam Kaiser discusses factors to be considered when beginning a new embedded design as it relates to power, including choosing the hardware, defining hardware design constraints, picking the right OS and drivers, and defining power usage profiles.

Taking advantage of new low-power modes on advanced microcontrollers

The author describes several common low power operating profiles and how they can be used to optimize a MCU's operation to meet specific system requirements. He also explains the tradeoffs involved with each, using a special battery life estimator.

Choosing the right low power processor for your embedded design

Here are some suggestions about design criteria you need to consider when selecting a low power processor for your embedded system design needs

System level software centric power debugging using virtual prototypes

Achim Nohl of Synopsys describes how Virtual Prototypes (VPs) provide all the necessary elements for a debug solution that can spot and remove power related defects from software.

Using hardware to save energy in MCU-based sensing applications

Here is how to offset the energy cost of implementing functions in software by extracting relatively complex functions or algorithms and embedding them in hardware designed for low energy consumption.

Power debugging: how it works and how you can benefit

In this Product How-To, Shawn Prestridge describes the concept of power debugging and how it is used in IAR's Workbench to evaluate the power profile of the Cortex M3/4 architecture.

Power aware verification of ARM-based designs

How to deal with the challenges of power aware verification in SoCs and use IEEE 1801-2009 Unified Power Format to define power management architecture for verifying a power-managed ARM-based design. (Paper from ARM TechCon 2010.)

Efficient C code for ARM devices

It seems that we very often have RAM and ROM coming out of our ears and we have processing power to burn. So what is the pressing issue of today? So often, it is power-efficiency…

The basics of low power programming on the Cortex-M0

In this article, Joseph Yiu, author of “The Definitive Guide to the Arm Cortex-M0,” provides a brief introduction to some of the ways in which a programmer can take advantage of the processors low power features.

Understanding MCU sleep modes and energy savings

Anders Guldahl of Energy Micro describes the energy cost of implementing functions in software and how changes in the distribution of responsibilities between hardware and software reduce that cost. As there is a wide range of sensing interfaces on the market, dedicated sensing logic units that are geared to a particular sensor may not be useful. The author explains how more generic needs can be catered for by making it possible to extract relatively complex processing from software and embed it in hardware designed for low energy consumption.

Use an MCU's low-power modes in foreground/background systems

The proper use of an embedded MCU's low-power/sleep modes is critical to a design's success.

Using drowsy cores to lower power in multicore SoCs

Freescale engineers describe a cascading power management technique that steers tasks to a smaller number of cores during non-peak activity periods so that the idle cores can enter a minimal-power or “drowsy” state.

2012 Embedded Market Survey webinar

UBM Electronics' 17th annual survey of embedded systems designers worldwide shows trends in software and hardware usage. The 2012 Embedded Market Survey also looks at languages, productivity, and the challenges design teams rank as most important. A webinar on Friday April 20 will examine the results from over 1,700 respondents from across the embedded industry, the dataset enables a deep analysis to track key changes in this important electronics industry segment. There will also be the opportunity to ask questions online. To register click here .


Fujitsu rolls power-centric software tool

Marketed under the brand name Easy DesignSim, Fujitus's new online design simulation tool helps engineers save time and money when developing power management ICs.

Power consumption calculator simplifies isolation product selection

Silicon Laboratories announced a free web-based Isolator Power Consumption Calculator to assess system power budgets for power-sensitive and thermally constrained designs

Starter kits for energy-efficient Leopard Gecko and Giant Gecko-based apps

Energy Micro has introduced two starter kits (STKs) for designers building complex battery-powered products based on the EFM32 Leopard Gecko and Giant Gecko microcontrollers.

VIA Labs VL812 USB 3.0 Hub Controller features low power, low cost

The VL812 USB 3.0 hub controller from Via Labs, Inc., incorporates a new low-power design featuring an industry-first integrated 5V DC-DC switching regulator.

ST's SPIRIT1 wireless transceiver cuts power budget 50% in smart meter apps

STMicroelectronics has launched a high-performance, ultra-low-power wireless transceiver for Automatic Meter Infrastructure and other wireless sensor node applications.

Come Along for the Ride on the Ultimate Electronics Road Trip!Join the adventure as road warrior and editor of EE Times' EE Life, Brian Fuller,tours the USA in the fire engine red Drive for Innovation Chevrolet Volt in search of engineering innovation.Follow content, access a drive tracker and an interactivemap highlighting the tour as well as participate in games and weekly contests.
Join the adventure!


In search of a power model

Last April, at EDP 2011, I began a search for a power model. Power models existed but they were for high performance, GHz based designs…

Guest editorial: Low power is everywhere

Design for power extends beyond mobile applications. This article show what the industry is doing and where they are having the greatest problems…

Implications of energy efficiency – we have work to do

A plenary session talk served as a wake-up call to consumers and designers of powered devices. We are making progress towards making more efficient products but we can do better.

The organizational side of power management: One engineers perspective

Even with jobs going overseas, the age-old conflict between engineering and marketing has not diminished. In this departure from diodes, MOSFETs and loop currents, Sanjaya looks at the organizational side of power management projects. The vocal, technology-grounded engineer may too often be the unwanted child in a “King's Court,” he worries.

Win a pit walk at the Indy 500

Or at four other IndyCar races.

Sponsored White Papers

Driving innovation in energy efficiency and low power

Low Power Design–where next for Power-Gating?

Introducing the ARM Cortex-M0+ processor: The Ultimate in Low Power

Low-Power Processors: When Performance Matters–VIA Nano X2 compared to Intel Atom

Low-Power FRAM Microcontrollers and Their Applications

Power management in embedded systems with dual OSes

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