More (performance) for less (power) -

More (performance) for less (power)

Embedded developers have always been concerned about keeping the power-budget of their designs as low as possible while at the same time getting the performance needed for the application.

But now with concerns about the environment and conserving fuel, as well as the new wireless sensor environment in which embedded devices now operate things get much tougher. Often the only power available is from a carefully managed battery supply or collected from the ambient environment. Working against this is the higher degree of functionality – and demands for power – that current microprocessor and microcontroller-based SoCs exhibit.

There are numerous recent design articles, columns and blogs, company technical papers, on line classes and webinars to help you work your way through the web of complexities and the variety of solutions available. Of these, my Editor’s Top Picks are:

Optimizing for low power in embedded MCU designs,” in which Sachin Gupta and Madhan Kumar look at the major factors contributing to power consumption in an embedded system by analyzing the various power modes that most microcontrollers offer.

How capacitive sensing can reduce standby power in household appliances,” by Gerrit de Villiers shows how to use capacitive proximity sensors to reduce standby power in household appliances to well below 50 mW.

Using sensor controllers to reduce power consumption in mobile computing, ” where Daniel Torres explains how a sensor controller can help reduce the overall system power consumption in mobile computing devices, and uses the MSP430 MCU to provide power consumption data.

Other relevant conferences papers and journal articles I have come across recently include:

Device power management for real time embedded systems
Fine-grained power management for multicore systems
A comprehensive approach to power management in embedded systems
Dynamic power management for hard real time systems

For the foreseeable future, power management issues – and particularly the balance between power and performance – will remain an on going design concern to embedded. systems developers. I would like to hear from you about your ideas and your experiences dealing with such issues as well as the kinds of articles you would like to read to help you sort through the many complexities. Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of the twice-a-week newsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to , or call 928-525-9087.

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